The Corner Forum
Saturday, June 14, 2003
Issue #34

30 Residents Protest Excello License Renewal

By Marc Borbely

536 13th St. NE

On June 4, at least 30 people, including me, officially registered protests to the renewal of Excello Liquors's (419 13th St. NE) liquor license. Each of the 30 people were either present at the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board hearing or had a representative there speaking for them.

Charles Burger, the chairman of the five-member board, remarked on the considerable turnout. "This is a larger crowd than we usually have," he said. He told the protestants that the large turnout made a difference in the eyes of board members.

Ten of the 30 protestants were in attendance at the "roll-call" hearing in front of the board: eight residents — Bill Ament, me, Scott Douglas, Gordon Keller, David Kinsey, Dustin Piccolo, Glen Reeves and Richard Sundberg — plus two Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners — Michael Musante (6A05) and Jessica Ward (6A06).

In addition, Mr. Musante had statements showing that he was officially representing 17 other residents who were not at the hearing: Stephanie Beggs, David Carmody, Michael Herman, Asilia Hill, Christin Laise, James Laise, Pam Larmee, Stan Larmee, Craig Lustig, John Peter Olinger, Shirley O'Neill, D. Shaw, John Thompson, C. Richard Trenz, Sandra Warren and Lorraine Witham. I had statements showing I was there representing two other residents: Tammi Cioffi and David Cromartie. And Mr. Ament had a statement showing he was representing Lucy Ament.

Others had signed protest letters; I'm not sure if ANC Commissioner Jessica Ward was officially representing them.

Charles Burger, the chairman of the five-member board, said Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A submitted its statement of protest to the renewal of the license too late. The ANC decided on May 28 to oppose the renewal; the deadline for protests had passed on May 20.

In response, the ANC voted this past Thursday to send a letter to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board asking that it grant the ANC the status of an official protestant, saying its lateness was due to its never having been informed by the board that Excello's license was up for renewal.

Sung S. Bang, the owner of Excello Liquors, was present at the hearing, as was his attorney, Simon M. Osnos, of Tysons Corner, Va.

Mr. Burger listed the issues before the board: the establishment's impact on peace and quiet, its impact on parking, vehicular safety, noncompliance with previous agreements, and possibly (depending on whether a protest letter mentioned it) adverse effect on the value of property.

Mr. Burger said there will be a "status hearing" on Excello on July 23 at 9:30 a.m., also at 941 North Capitol St. NE, on the seventh floor. He said all protestants must either appear in person or authorize, in writing, a representative to speak for them.

Between now and July 23, the protestants will be meeting with Mr. Bang and his attorney to see if an agreement can be reached between the protestants and Mr. Bang.

Mr. Osnos, Mr. Bang's attorney, asked that he be able to contact only one or two of the protestants instead of having to contact each one of them, when he wants to communicate something. The protestants present agreed that they would be satisfied if Mr. Osnos contacted Mr. Musante, Ms. Ward and me.

Ms. Ward said she wanted to wait to have a first meeting with Mr. Osnos until after a separate "fact-finding" hearing is held on June 25.

Ms. Ward said this June 25 hearing is a result of complaints she made that Excello is in violation of its current voluntary agreement. She has a letter from a D.C. inspector that shows that the inspector visited the establishment at the end of May and found multiple violations, including that Excello was selling single-serving containers of alcohol and that Excello was not maintaining a log of police calls made.

If Excello is found to be in violation of its agreement, it could face sanctions. §