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Posted at 02:03 PM ET, 09/17/2009

Fenty Takes Steps against Masonic Lodge in Northeast

As expected, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) Thursday announced steps the city is taking to shut down activities at the Masonic lodge in Ward 5 that residents and city officials say are leading to violence and other disturbances in the Woodridge neighborhood.

Fenty postponed his announcement to Thursday after a scheduling conflict Tuesday.
The original news release said the city was shutting down the Northeast Washington lodge, but the news release about Thursday's announcement stated the city was shutting down a "teen club" inside the lodge. The club is actually a weekend go-go for young people that is thrown on the weekends.

Fenty was joined by Attorney General Peter J. Nickles, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and Linda Argo, director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

The lodge, built in 1939, was renting its building to party promoters with the use of its public hall license. That license, which has been renewed on a month-to-month basis, was not renewed on Sept. 1. The community will have an opportunity to weigh in.

Between January and August, the police received 115 calls for service at the lodge or within 1,000 feet of the building, said Lanier, later adding the calls were for everything from a shooting to public urination.

Lanier, Nickles and Argo said any license renewal must include agreements to make the activities safer and without disruption to the neighborhood.

Argo said residents' complaints led to re-thinking the renewal.

Lodge members cried foul, saying the incidents are exaggerated and complaining that they received no notice of Fenty's announcement. They said they were trying to open the lodge to an activity that would keep teens off the street.

Some residents, however, said they know firsthand that the problems are not exaggerated. "We're not against the people [lodge members]. It's the activities," said Lorenzo Crandle, who lives near the lodge. "We can't come out from Thursday to Sunday mornings."

By Anne Bartlett  |  02:03 PM ET, 09/17/2009

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