The District's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board, citing traffic and parking problems in Georgetown, has denied a liquor license for a proposed indoor-outdoor cafe and discotheque in the old Williams Chevrolet building on M Street.
The liquor license for the proposed Pierce Street Annex restaurant at 3307 M Street NW, has protested in June by the Georgetown Citizens Association and its members, who claimed it would add to traffic and parking problems that deprive them of what one resident called "a decent human setting" and would hamper police and fire protection.
Courts Oulahan, attorney for the Georgetown Citizens Association, said the action appeared to be the first time in the last 15 years in which the board has "recognized the genuine complaints of residents and businessmen" that the extensive number of bars and restaurants in Georgetown "has caused, and is causing traffic, parking, trash and crime problems."
The board's 11-page decision, made public Tuesday, identifies no single reason for the denial. Rather, it said that the benefits of a 200-seat "California-style" cafe in the old automobile dealership building were outweighed by the "adverse impact upon the traffic conditions and the parking conditions in the general area surrouding the premises."
The board noted two incidents in May in which fire trucks were unable to reach emergency calls on M Street because of traffic congestion, adding, "On Friday and Saturday nights, police cruisers are unable to timely respond to emergency calls in the 3200 block of M Street NW, due to the traffic congestion and illegal parking."
The traffic congestion and illegal parking in Georgetown "result from patrons going to and from establishments holding alcoholic beverage licenses in the M Street-Wisconsin Avenue NE area," the board said. There are some 60 liquor licensed restaurants and bars in Georgetown, 21 within the immediate vicinity of the proposed restaurant.
Jerry M. Hardman, president of the corporation which planned to operate the restaurant, had not consulted with his attorney by Tuesday afternoon, but said he probably will not pursue the application.
But Hardman denied that his establishment would have contributed significantly to traffic and parking problems, saying, "If they were to take away any 10 liquor licenses, or grant 10 additional liquor licenses, I do not feel it would have any impact on the parking or traffic conditions in Georgetown whatsoever."
Hardman has been running the Pierce Street Annex downtown at 1210 19th. NW, since July. He said it has been received well, and was a "prototype" for the proposed Georgetown operation. But he said, "If a majority of citizens of Georgetown feel that we would be a detriment to their particular lifestyle, then we would choose not to be associated with that area."
Oulahan said the Georgetown Citizens Association has been opposing liquor licenses in Georgetown for 15 years. He said he hoped the board would turn down further requests for liquor licenses in the area. One case, involving the proposed La Potagerie restaurant at 3209-11 M St. NW, is pending. Of approximately 100 cases fought by the citizens' association, the group has won only about 10 times, Oulahan said.
In a prepared statement, Oulahan said efforts by both residents and businessmen opposing future licenses could continue, and, "It is to hoped that these efforts will continue until we have a moratoriam on the issuance of further licences, not only in the Georgetown area but in other sections of the city which have the same problem."
The ABC Board, however, said in its decision that requests for a "blanket ruling" against licenses in Georgetown should be taken to the City Council. District law requires the board to consider each license on its own merits.