County staff researching the permit request had recommended the issue be deferred until the board’s September 15 meeting. That recommendation — which was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board — is supposed to give the owner time to convince the community there would not be violence or disruptive incidents like those that previously occurred on the property. Police and neighbors have expressed opposition to approving the permit.
Seven residents who live nearby showed up at the meeting to enumerate the reasons they oppose the permit. In addition to the noise, loitering and public drunkenness that all reported witnessing, a major concern is safety. Nearly all of the speakers had reported calling the police after witnessing brutal fights between club goers, some of which spill into the neighborhood.
“I’m afraid for my safety, I don’t know what’s going to come out of one of these fights,” said Melanie Myers. “I can’t even sit out in my backyard.”
It was noted that the establishment is at the end of a residential street and has a significant impact on people’s lives.
“It’s unsettling and it’s not fair,” said Amy Pasion. “It’s a residential area and we shouldn’t have to deal with this.”
Like other speakers, Pasion stated she didn’t mind the restaurant or hookah bar inside the building, but a club is too disruptive and dangerous.
Part of the controversy is the involvement of Jorge Escobar, who is currently named as the landlord. He has been involved with the property in various capacities for more than a decade, sometimes as a manager of the club.
“We’ve suffered for many years as a result of this specific location and business,” said Aristia Glinka. “And the people that are applying for this permit are linked to the problems that we’ve been having over the years.”
Escobar’s attorney testified at the meeting and promised the board that the three partners of this establishment are interested in starting anew. He expressed Escobar’s interest in working with people living in the neighborhood. However, residents claim attempts to work with him before have been unfruitful.
“So he has a — so far — pretty bad track record,” said Board Member Jay Fisette, responding to resident complaints. “Both when he was in charge, and during the years he had a tenant responsible.”
Questions were raised over whether Escobar’s involvement would perpetuate some of the previous issues. It was noted that he previously held an entertainment permit for a night club on the property, but it was revoked in 2002 due to police and fire code issues.
Several board members said they were confused about the establishment and how it’s divided into a restaurant, hookah bar and nightclub. Repeatedly, clarification was requested on how each of the three partners is involved in the business, and why the Pines of Italy restaurant was listed as the permit holder instead of the night club.
Escobar’s attorney said each partner has a responsibility for one of the operations. He said Escobar had looked to hire someone to take care of the entertainment portion. He also said the night club is essential for the establishment to make enough money to stay open, and the partners would do what is necessary to appease the community.
Residents report not experiencing major disturbances since December, when the previous night club shut down. However, there’s doubt about whether new managers would be able to adequately control a club in a location with such a history of trouble. Board Member Chris Zimmerman echoed the sentiment, saying the proximity of this commercial building to a residential area is one of the closest the board has encountered.
“I’m not sure the prospects are ever going to be really good for live entertainment at this location,” Zimmerman said. “It might not be impossible, but I do think it’s one of the more problematic locations that we’ve seen.”
Zimmerman added that Escobar’s attorney didn’t present enough of a convincing case that efforts would be made to change, or that partners had worked to resolve issues with neighbors.
Before voting on the issue, Board Member Jay Fisette summed up the reasoning for deferring — lack of confidence that the same problems previously plaguing the property wouldn’t resurface.
“This needs some work by the staff to see if some number of serious conditions can be created that will allow the board to approve a use permit,” said Fisette. “But I don’t think we’re there yet.”
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The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.
Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.
About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.
The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village