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D.C. Alcohol Board Loosens Moratorium On Liquor Licenses In Adams Morgan

Restaurants will now be able to get liquor licenses in Adams Morgan.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/wctc/78973098/
Restaurants will now be able to get liquor licenses in Adams Morgan.

A longstanding moratorium on liquor licenses in Adams Morgan is being changed.

The D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted today to allow restaurants in the neighborhood to apply for liquor licenses, loosening a moratorium in place for 14 years that largely prohibited new bars, restaurants, taverns, or nightclubs from selling alcohol.

The change came at the request of an Advisory Neighborhood Commission and Mayor Vincent Gray's office, both of which argued that the moratorium — which covers establishments located within 1,400 feet of the intersection of Belmont and 18th streets NW — had not appreciably changed quality-of-life concerns in the neighborhood.

Despite allowing restaurants to gain liquor licenses, the board also voted to renew the moratorium for bars, taverns and nightclubs. Even there, though, the board showed some flexibility: the moratorium will be renewed for three years, instead of the usual five.

In its written decision, the seven-member board recognized that a balance exists between promoting nightlife options and protecting residents who live in Adams Morgan.

"Lest it gets lost in the greater discussion, the Board makes clear that it appreciates the balance that must be struck between the interests of the residents in the neighborhood, and the interests that promote a nightlife economy," it wrote.

"The Board recognizes that a diverse, dynamic and safe dining and entertainment environment is part of the fabric of the District, and yet, nightlife activity needs to be carefully managed in order to reduce antisocial behavior, noise, public disturbance and other problems," it added.

Last November, the board made a similar decision with a moratorium in East Dupont, voting to reimpose it for three years but allowing restaurants and liquor licenses to apply for licenses. In October, though, the board rejected a request for a moratorium for portions of U and 14th streets NW.

There are moratoria in place in Georgetown, Glover Park and West Dupont.

Proponents of the moratoria say they help protect neighborhood business districts from being crowded out by bars and restaurants while tamping down on quality-of-life problems stemming from alcohol. But critics say that they are a blunt tool that artificially increase the cost of liquor licenses while stopping bad actors from being replaced by good ones.

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