City Paper Widget

Monday, January 26, 2015

ANC1B Committee Votes to Protest License for 24-hour Operation by Satellite Room

Satellite Room, a "hipster diner" located across from the 9:30 Club at 2047 9th Street NW, is asking for a change to its liquor license which would allow 24-hour operation. However, Ian Hilton, one of the co-owners of the Satellite Room, told the liquor-licensing affairs committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street on January 21 that the intention was to operate 24 hours only on weekends, from opening at 5pm Fridays to "last call" Sunday night.

Satellite Room in 2012 (Photo credit below)
The sought-after changes would not only allow the establishment to stay open all night, but also to serve alcohol, both inside and outside, until 3am. Hilton said the intention was to stop serving alcohol at 2:30 am "last call" and not resume until 11am. Those remaining would be able to order food and remain inside.

The committee voted to recommend to the full ANC a protest for the proposed change in the license until a modified settlement agreement can be worked out between the Satellite Room, the ANC, and a group of objecting neighbors who are resident at The Floridian condo (929 Florida Avenue). The motion was made by ANC1B Commissioner John Green (district 12). Eight of the 11 committee members present voted for the motion, none against, three abstained.

A settlement agreement is a binding legal agreement. In the case of DC liquor licensees, a settlement agreement often deals with hours of operation, noise, trash disposal, parking, and other matters of community interest. A settlement agreement is part of the establishment's liquor license.

In this case, a settlement agreement (see page 4 of a 6-page .pdf here) was entered into in 2011 by the establishment (then called "Satellite Pizza") and the ANC. It allows the establishment to routinely stay open until 3am on the weekends. If the Satellite Room wishes to get DC's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to consent to the increase their opening hours, they will have to get the ANC to agree, as well as placating the residents of The Floridian who are planning to file a "group of five or more" protest.

Nick Baumann, chair of the ANC1B liquor-licensing affairs committee, said he had received "several emails" objecting to the extended hours. Baumann read one email as representative of all. The email complained of the noise from the Satellite Room's rear outdoor patio, which is legally defined as a "summer garden", even though it is largely concrete.

A married couple were present at the meeting to represent the residents of The Floridian. They reported that about 1/3rd of the units in face the Satellite Room on 9th Stree. They had 16 signatures of Floridian residents against the change in hours, and planned to get more.

"All of the unit owners are bothered by the current state of affairs," one of the Floridian residents said.

"You get the bass, the people talking over the music," she said.

She also said that, although the summer garden has a legal capacity of 24 seats, there are "roughly a hundred people there on many nights".

"Everyone's having difficulty sleeping," she said, adding that residents have to use white noise machines and ear plugs.

In addition, there have been problems with late-night smokers congregating in front of the condo, as well as on-street vomiting near the condo.

Owner Ian Hilton disputed that noise had been a problem, noting that DC authorities had visited his establishment after the neighbors had complained. ABRA had taken readings, and NOT cited his establishment for noise violations, unlike some of his neighbors.

"We've had visits from ABRA," he said. "We've been a compliant owner."

Hilton called the accusations of noise from his establishment "a case of mistaken identity"

The Satellite Room is in ANC1B district 11. The newly-elected ANC1B Commissioner for the district is Robb Hudson. Hudson was present at the meeting, and it seems like the task of trying to negotiate an agreement will fall to him.

The full ANC will probably vote at its next regularly scheduled meeting on the recommendation to protest the application for the liquor license change. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 5, at 7pm, at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets).

ABRA will have a "roll call" hearing on February 17, 10am, at ABRA headquarters on the fourth floor of the Reeves Center. The ANC and "group of five or more" will have to show up and have standing as a protesting group officially accepted. After that, there will probably be attempts at mediation.

(Photo credit:, used by permission)

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