Posts Tagged “BZA”
This morning, the Board of Zoning Adjustment unanimously approved Vornado’s bid to build a bowling alley in Georgetown Park Mall, Georgetown Patch reports. The venue’s future remained unclear after the ANC 2E passed a resolution opposing its construction until the residents of the mall’s condominiums and the company reached an agreement.
Yet, surely enough, at the meeting, representatives from Vornado and the condos announced they had reached an agreement on noise, which was their principal worry, and will sign a contract soon. As a result, the ANC dropped its resistance to the alley’s construction.
The owners effectively guaranteed that no sound would be audible for any of the residents.
Pinstripes is a relatively “high-end” bowling chain and their Georgetown plans include an Italian/American restaurant, 12 lanes for bowling, and an upper-level party rooms open for rental. While the restaurant will include a bar, Vornado has made a point that the establishment will not cater to a “heavy drinking crowd,” such as Georgetown students and various other youthful hooligans.
While Vox was unable to attend the BZA’s hearing this morning, Voice news will have the latest on the bowling alley’s approval in this week’s print issue.
Image: Adam Fagen via Flickr
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As reported by Georgetown Patch, Wisey’s plans to add seating to the second floor of its building, despite an Advisory Neighborhood Commission resolution that did not support the expansion.
Wisey’s owner Nabeel Audeh appealed to the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment on Tuesday, requesting a zoning exception that would allow him to begin using the additional space. (Because the second and third floors of the Wisconsin Avenue building are zoned as residential space, Audeh needs the BZA’s approval before expanding.)
However, BZA Chairperson Meredith Moldenhauer denied Audeh’s request, noting the lack of input from both the ANC and local residents.
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Looks like that’s it, Philly Pizza fans. On Friday, the fast-food favorite was issued a ‘notice to discontinue illegal use of premises,’ pictured after the jump, in accordance with the BZA decision made on Tuesday to shut the establishment down.
The notice informs the owners that “Philly Pizza must immediately cease operations at 1211 Potomac Street NW, upon service of this Notice. If DCRA determines that Philly Pizza is continuing, after service of the Notice, to operate at these premises, DCRA will request that the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia seek emergency injunctive relief in the D.C. Superior Court, on or after February 22, 2010.”
Thanks to Topher Mathews of Georgetown Metropolitan for sending us the doc!
“Comments of the Week” will run tomorrow
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A bureaucratic decision made at about 9:15 this evening may well be the end the Philly Pizza on Potomac Street. The District Board of Zoning Adjustment has just upheld the decision made by the D.C. Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs to revoke its certificate of occupancy because it was operating as a fast food restaurant but was not zoned to do so.
“Basically, they will have to close that location as soon as the City decides to enforce the decision,” Student Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Aaron Golds (COL ’11) said. Golds said it is unclear when the City will do so, but, “it could be as soon as tomorrow.”
Matt Kocak, the owner of Philly Pizza, said that he was not sure if he would appeal the BZA’s decision.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “The door is open.”
The final vote by the board was unanimous, with all five members voting to reject Philly Pizza’s request to repeal the decision of Matthew LeGrant, the District Zoning Administrator, to revoke their certificate of occupancy. Although residents who lived near Philly Pizza gave testimony about the crowds and noise the establishment drew, the board members said that the question that had to be resolved was whether Philly Pizza was acting as a fast-food establishment or a restaurant.
Today’s hearing was the second session of Philly Pizza’s appeal of the DCRA’s decision, which the DCRA made on October 19. An over-seven-hours affair, groups who were opposed to Philly Pizza’s continued operation used today to make their case against reversing DCRA’s decision. (At the first hearing, Philly Pizza’s owners and legal representation argued that they were operating as a sit-down restaurant, not a carry-out establishment.)
Terrell Hill, an investigator with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs who visited Philly Pizza three times undercover early this school year, testified that on his first visit he only observed one person besides himself actually sitting and eating in the restaurant. Everyone else who came into Philly Pizza ordered food, paid for it, and left, he said. When he was shown around the establishment by the owner on a fourth visit where he announced himself as an inspector, it became clear that Philly Pizza was not using non-disposable table ware, a requirement for a restaurant.
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A six-plus hour hearing to decide the fate of Philly Pizza & Grill? Repeated explanations of the difference between fast-food establishments and restaurants? Arguments about silverware and dishwashing techniques?
All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.
Here’s the abridged version of the hearing held yesterday by the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustments to determine whether Philly P was in violation of its certificate of occupancy and should be closed: those in charge pretty much decided nothing. Time ran out shortly after John Patrick Brown Jr., Philly Pizza’s legal representative, and owner Mehmet Kocak closed their argument. The BZA will convene again to make a decision about the appeal on February 9. In the meantime, Philly P’s will stay open under the conditions of the Stay of Enforcement passed back in November.
The BZA hearing revolved around Kocak’s appeal of the Zoning Regulator’s decision to revoke his business’s Certificate of Occupancy. Kocak sat with his attorney, Brown, armed with photos, non-disposable plates, and desperate words for clemency, all to demonstrate that his restaurant was a sit-down and not take-out affair.
“I have put a lot of time and energy into making sure that people of all ages and nationality can enjoy my restaurant … Nobody told me I was doing anything wrong … I don’t want to burn my bridges,” Kocak said.
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Depending on the outcome of an impending meeting, the first weekend back at Georgetown may be missing a key ingredient—its ranch-and-pizza mecca.
On Tuesday, the owners of Philly Pizza and Grill will appeal to the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment to reverse another department’s October 19 decision to revoke its license of occupancy. A decision against the establishment may force it to shut down entirely.
It doesn’t help Philly P’s chances that the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners who have been making diligent efforts to shutter the pizza joint recently voted to give themselves the right to testify at Tuesday’s meeting with evidence they have collected against it. They are contending that because Philly P is acting as a carry-out restaurant—even though it is zoned as a sit-down establishment—it is in violation of its license of occupancy.
However, on November 17, the breakdown between dine-in, delivery, and carry-out sales that Philly P’s legal representation presented to the BZA convinced BZA Chair Marc Loud that Philly P could conceivably win Tuesday’s appeal.
Tomorrow, Philly P will need to present a more detailed breakdown of its sales numbers that will show the ratio of take-out, dine-in, and delivery at different hours of the day. (At the November 17 hearing, ANC Commissioner Bill Starrels also requested that an independent source confirm the numbers it presents.)
Vox will be there, whether tomorrow’s hearing frustrates months of community efforts to close or reduce the hours of Philly P—or whether the BZA’s decision is one that will send us all stumbling toward Tuscany Pizza in the wee hours of the morning.
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As The Hoya reported earlier today, the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs recently revoked Philly Pizza and Grille’s certificate of occupancy, meaning everyone’s favorite midnight pizza place could be shut down.
Today, the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment held a hearing on whether to grant DCRA a temporary restraining order, which would force the restaurant to close pending a January 12 hearing on the agency’s allegations of zoning violations. The BZA granted Philly Pizza a stay, meaning they will be able to remain open at least until the January hearing.
According to GUSA Vice President Jason Kluger (MSB ’11), who attended today’s hearing, the conflict stems from the fact that Philly Pizza is zoned as a sit-down restaurant. DCRA is alleging that they are actually primarily a take-out operation, and are thus violating their zoning restrictions.
Kluger and GUSA Communications Director Molly Breen (MSB ’11), who also attended the meeting, said that Philly Pizza will be trying to focus more on delivery in the next few months, and is encouraging students to call in their orders instead of coming by the store. According to Breen, Philly Pizza is encouraging students who do go down to Potomac Street to be mindful of the restaurant’s neighbors.
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