A former Columbia Pike business has inspired a state bill that would allow localities greater say over liquor licenses.
HB 2131 was introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates last month by Del. Alfonso Lopez, who represents Arlington — including portions of the Pike — in the 49th District.
It has since passed the House unanimously and is now in the Virginia State Senate.
The bill is a response to a number of incidents, including multiple shootings, that took place in 2020 at the nightlife venue Purple Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge at 3111 Columbia Pike.
Despite “a series of disturbing events” and much to the chagrin of the Arlington County Board, the venue was given its liquor license back by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority in September.
While the Purple Lounge has since closed, HB 2131 would allow greater input from localities about what businesses are granted liquor licenses by the Virginia ABC. It would add “chief administrative officer of a locality” to the list of those sent license applications. In Arlington County’s case, that’s the County Manager.
It also would expand the definition of “criminal blight,” meaning a condition on the property that endangers the public health or safety of local residents, thus making it easier for a license to be denied in cases of criminal activity.
Delegate Lopez tells ARLnow that he believes that this is the most important part of the bill.
“We’ve tightened the firearm section. In the past it had said repeated use of firearms,” says Lopez. “What we’ve done is [added] the simple discharge of a firearm once now it rises to the level of the criminal statute.”
The bill also adds “in possession” of a controlled substance, as opposed to just “under the influence,” and includes criminal activity that takes place on the property — like, in the parking lot — as opposed to simply in a building.
“It is easier now for community groups to give proof [of criminal activity],” says Lopez. “It’s easier for localities to meet the threshold by which they can report a bad actor establishment to ABC.”
Virginia ABC remains the only agency that can suspend or revoke liquor licenses.
While the frustration in the community over the Purple Lounge directly influenced this bill, Lopez says that he’s heard of similar situations in other Virginia jurisdictions.
Kristi Sawert, President of the Arlington Heights Civic Associations, is one of the local leaders that helped bring attention to the matter. She says “a lot of bad things were happening” at the Purple Lounge that were upsetting and scaring residents.
Sawert says too often she felt that the local civic associations were “kind of shut out of the process” when it came to the Virginia ABC making decisions and settling liquor license disputes. She applauds this bill since it gives Arlington County more tools and more say in preventing businesses like this from operating in neighborhoods.
She also thinks it would be advantageous to include civic associations on the list of those that would receive liquor license applications.
“99.9% of the time, there’s no issue at all with any type of business getting their alcohol license,” says Sawert. “This would give another opportunity for civic associations in Arlington a chance to weigh in on what’s going on in their boundaries. I think it’s just more information.”
Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti also agrees with the bill.
“Arlington was supportive of this legislation, which is why Board Member Takis Karantonis provided testimony before the House General Laws Committee on behalf of the Board,” he writes to ARLnow. “We appreciate Delegate Lopez’s efforts on behalf of our residents in this matter.”
The bill was referred to the Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services in the Virginia State Senate on Feb. 4.
Lopez remains optimistic that it will pass the Senate, be signed by the governor, and become state law.
“I am hopeful that it will pass the Senate,” he says. “But, you know, the Senate is very different than the House.”
A smaller-format grocery store is now part of the plan for the redevelopment of the Westmont Shopping Center.
The strip mall, at the busy corner of Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road, is set to be torn down and replaced with a six-story mixed use building with 250 housing units and 22,500 square feet of retail space. The redevelopment plan was approved by the County Board last fall.
The project’s developer is coming back to the Board this weekend to request modifications that would allow a grocery store to occupy the retail space.
More from a county staff report:
The use permit allows the construction of a six-story structure containing 250 multi-family residential units, approximately 22,500 square feet of retail, and two levels of structured parking. The Applicant is pursuing a grocery store tenant to occupy the ground floor tenant space of the building, and these amendments are necessary to accommodate the grocer’s delivery trucks. The grocery store’s delivery model requires the use of large, 53-foot delivery trucks, which requires the alley’s egress and proposed public access easement area to be widened east of S. Glebe Road and results in an undergrounding of the existing at-grade transformers. The proposed underground utility vault and ventilation grates will encroach into the proposed widened public access easement.
Given the smaller size of the retail space, one could expect a grocery store more along the lines of a Trader Joe’s, as opposed to a full-service supermarket.
Westmont Shopping center redevelopment is pursuing an unnamed grocery store tenant. The retail square footage in this redevelopment is only 22,500 so we're likely look at something Trader Joe's or MOM's sized, not HT/Giant/Safeway. @ARLnowDOTcom https://t.co/Z8LHcH12fL
— Chris Slatt (@alongthepike) November 10, 2020
The new grocery store would be located between the Giant at Penrose Square and the new Harris Teeter at the Centro development (Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive).
County staff is recommending the Board approve the requested changes. The staff report does not specify when work on the project is expected to begin.
Hat tip to Chris Slatt
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) The newest entrant into Arlington’s restaurant scene has opened its doors.
Ruthie’s All-Day, located in the Arlington Heights neighborhood and owned by a pair of fine dining vets, is now accepting dinner reservations and takeout orders.
The restaurant is a bit off the beaten path: it’s located along S. Glebe Road at 3411 5th Street S., in a single-story, historic building that once served as a chocolate factory.
Ruthie’s aims to be a neighborhood destination, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in a place that’s blocks from the nearest sit-down restaurant and a half hour walk from the Ballston Metro station.
Despite the understated name, “RAD” has a menu that is more culinary than quick-service.
Starters include Southern staples like deviled eggs, cornbread, hushpuppies and pimento cheese, mixed in with tuna tartare and wood grilled octopus. Pork, chicken and brisket sandwiches are joined on the menu with entrees like wood fired bacon wrapped trout, roasted diver scallops, and smoked Rohan duck breast.
Though Ruthie’s doesn’t have barbecue in its name, it does have two all wood burning smokers and a custom wood hearth, fed by North Carolina hickory and oak wood. It offers meat by the pound and half pound, including brisket, pulled pork and chicken, as well as racks of ribs.
In addition to the food, the restaurant will have eight local beers on tap, on a rotating basis, in addition to seasonal cocktails and a curated wine list.
Ruthie’s, which is touting its COVID precautions as it opens amid the pandemic, also has a large patio for outdoor dining. It plans to roll out coffee, breakfast, brunch and lunch service at later dates.
More from a press release:
We are pleased to announce the official opening of Ruthie’s All-Day by Chef Matt Hill and Partner Todd Salvadore. This will be Chef Matt’s and Todd’s first solo restaurant after working in the industry for more than twenty years. […]
As a full-service, family friendly, all-day neighborhood restaurant and bar with a custom-built wood-burning hearth, Ruthie’s All-Day will offer coffee/counter, lunch, brunch, and dinner service scratch made food with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients. “We are beyond excited to finally open our doors to Ruthie’s All-Day! We plan to open in phases. Currently, we are open for dinner and takeout. In the coming weeks, we will be introducing Counter Culture coffee, breakfast/lunch counter, and brunch service,” says Chef Matt Hill.
The opening dinner menu is Chef Matt Hill’s modern take on a meat and three with 100% wood smoked barbecue and grilled meats including: smoked pulled pork shoulder with scratch made milk bread; wood fired citrus marinated 1/2 chicken with a raisin caper vinaigrette, smoked brisket; and smoked half rack sticky spare ribs. These are accompanied by twos and threes: buttermilk biscuits; mac and cheese; pulled pork pinto beans; anson mills grits; crispy brussels in fish sauce vinaigrette; hand cut fries; or charred kimchi dirty rice. Super tasty starters, such as skillet cornbread, hot hushpuppies with shrimp and roasted jalapeno, wood grilled oysters, and brunswick stew are also featured. The menu will showcase delicious entree salads, including fried chicken cobb salad and nice grilled salmon salad, as well as several sandwiches including Chef Hill’s crispy fried chicken sandwich with gojuchang aioli, bread and butter pickles, and slaw. The beverage program led by Todd Salvadore offers Cocktails with twists on classic favorites, and a rotating eight draft beer program from local breweries.
In the coming weeks, in the morning, the take-out counter will feature an evolving menu with our ridiculously delicious breakfast biscuits and bowls, think stone ground grits, house-made sausage, crispy fried chicken, and brisket, egg and cheese biscuits, alongside Counter Culture coffee from Chef Hill’s (and Ruthie’s) home state of North Carolina. Lunch time brings a mix of fresh ground burgers, sandwiches and entree salads with greens from local farmers and producers, packed with seasonal superfoods.
Both indoor and outdoor seating are currently available. “While following the CDC, WHO, and VA government guidelines, our number one priority is keeping our guests and staff safe,” says Todd Salvadore.
A 40-year-old Arlington man is accused of a sex offense after police say he touched a girl inappropriately in the Arlington Heights neighborhood late last year.
The incident happened around 5 p.m. on Dec. 10, 2019. Police say the girl and two other juveniles were walking down the 300 block of S. Irving Street, near Thomas Jefferson Middle School, when the suspect approached the group and grabbed the girl from behind.
Playford Ray Resh, 40, was arrested near Clarendon last week, the Arlington County Police Department announced today. He’s now facing an Aggravated Sexual Battery charge.
More from ACPD:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is announcing the arrest of a subject charged with a sex offense involving a juvenile. Playford Ray Resh, 40, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with Aggravated Sexual Battery. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.
At approximately 5:12 p.m. on December 10, 2019, police were dispatched to the 300 block of S. Irving Street for the report of an assault that just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that three juveniles were walking in the area when the suspect allegedly began to follow them. The suspect then approached the female victim from behind, grabbed her buttocks and placed his hands around her, pulling towards him. The victim pushed the suspect away and yelled for help. The suspect fled the scene on foot prior to police arrival and a canvas of the area returned with negative results.
Detectives assigned to the Special Victims Unit began a thorough investigation into the incident. A review of witness interviews, tips from the public and crime scene evidence led detectives to identify Mr. Resh as a suspect. He was taken into custody without incident in the 3300 block of Wilson Boulevard on the evening of August 13, 2020.
This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone who has additional information related to this investigation or may have had past inappropriate encounters with this suspect is asked to contact Detective S. Gomez at 703-228-4173 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Several vehicles were damaged Wednesday afternoon after a woman in a vehicle that was reported stolen twice tried to ram her way out of traffic stops, according to police.
The incident started shortly after 4 p.m. in the Buckingham neighborhood.
Police say the woman stole a car that was left idling and unattended, near the intersection of N. Henderson Road and N. Thomas Street, and was subsequently spotted driving north of N. Glebe Road near Route 50.
She refused to stop for officers, but was followed through Ballston by police in unmarked vehicles, as witnessed by an ARLnow reporter. Police tried to block her in on N. Monroe Street, near the Arlington Arts Center, but she reportedly hopped the curb and kept driving. The mirror of a parked vehicle, as well as the front of a police SUV, appear to have been damaged in the process.
An Arlington County Police Department crime report details what happened next.
“Officers briefly lost sight of the vehicle, but located it again when the suspect backed into a parking spot in the 3300 block of 2nd Street S.,” near Thomas Jefferson Middle School, according to the crime report. “The suspect refused to exit the vehicle and began to drive again, striking a cruiser blocking it into the spot.”
“Spike sticks were deployed as the driver attempted to flee again by reversing the vehicle onto the curb behind it,” the crime report continues. “Following multiple attempts to have the suspect exit the vehicle, officers forced entry and took her into custody without incident.”
“Latia Hill, 27, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny: Motor Vehicle Theft, Eluding Police and Reckless Driving, and held on no bond,” the crime report concludes. “During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect also struck a parked vehicle in the area of Wilson Boulevard and N. Monroe Street.”
A Virginia State Police trooper assisted with the final traffic stop, according to scanner traffic. No injuries were reported.
Arlington County police recently warned residents of a wave of thefts of unattended vehicles, many of which are delivery vehicles.
An ambitious new restaurant is coming to an unlikely place: a former chocolate factory and paint store.
Ruthie’s All-Day — a family-friendly neighborhood restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner — plans to open this fall at 3411 5th Street S., a historic building that most recently housed a Sherwin-Williams store, in the front parking lot of the newly-renovated Dominion Apartments.
Behind the restaurant are two veterans of the local food scene: Matt Hill, formerly Executive Chef for Liberty Tavern Restaurant Group, which operates The Liberty Tavern, Northside Social, Lyon Hall and Liberty Barbecue; and Todd Salvadore, formerly a general manager for Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s RW Restaurant Group. Both Hill and Salvadore also worked at Charlie Palmer Steak in D.C.
Located along S. Glebe Road, between Columbia Pike and Route 50 in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, Ruthie’s will be a sit-down restaurant with a bar, a takeout counter, an outdoor patio, and a wood-burning hearth. It is expected to open in phases, starting in September with outdoor dining, takeout and catering.
Signature offerings include wood-smoked barbecue and southern-style dishes, in addition to seasonal cocktails, a curated wine list, and a rotating selection of draft beer.
“Ruthie’s All-Day will feature a take-out counter with Counter Culture coffee, ridiculously delicious breakfast biscuits, stone ground grits, house-made sausage, crispy fried chicken sandwiches, vinegar spiked pulled pork sandwiches, and hearty salads,” said an announcement Wednesday morning. “In the evening, Ruthie’s will be Chef Hill’s modern take on a meat and three which will include pepper smoked prime grade brisket, fresh Chesapeake rockfish, char-grilled gochujang rubbed spare ribs, southern style mac and cheese, white-soy braised greens, and more.”
A full press release is below.
A North Carolina man wound up in jail after allegedly declaring independence from his trousers Saturday night.
Just before midnight on July 4, police were called to the 1200 block of S. Eads Street in Pentagon City for a report of a man exposing himself.
“Arriving officers located the suspect, who attempted to walk away from them. He then turned back and allegedly exposed himself to officers, who then took him into custody without incident,” according to a new Arlington County Police Department crime report.
A 36-year-old man from Fayetteville, North Carolina “was arrested and charged with Indecent Exposure and Drunk in Public,” the report continued. “He was held on no bond.”
On the morning of the Fourth of July, a 29-year-old D.C. man was arrested on the 100 block of S. Fenwick Street, in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, after another alleged indecent exposure incident.
“At approximately 7:04 a.m. on July 4, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure,” said the crime report. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim observed the male suspect allegedly touching himself inappropriately. Arriving officers located the suspect and took him into custody without incident.”
The suspect was charged with Public Masturbation and held on no bond, the crime report said.
(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) A man inappropriately touched and attempted to restrain a teen girl in the Arlington Heights neighborhood Tuesday evening.
That’s according to Arlington County Police and an email on the local civic association listserv.
The incident happened around 5 p.m. on the 300 block of S. Irving Street.
“My 14 year daughter was walking home the boy she babysits for with another friend and was grabbed by a man who was walking behind following then when he attended to snatch her around the waist while crossing the street,” the victim’s father said via an email, which was reposted on the civic association’s Facebook page.
“She screamed and slapped the man who dropped her and ran away. A local family came outside when they heard the scream, and let them wait in the house for the police and my wife to show up. All three are traumatized.”
So far no arrests have been reported and police say the investigation is ongoing. More on the incident, including the description of the suspect, from ACPD:
SEXUAL BATTERY, 2019-12100186, 300 block of S. Irving Street. At approximately 5:12 p.m. on December 10, police were dispatched to the report of an assault that just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that three juveniles were walking in the area when the suspect allegedly began to follow them. The suspect then approached the female victim from behind, grabbed her buttocks and placed his hands around her, pulling towards him. The victim pushed the suspect away and yelled for help. The suspect fled the scene on foot prior to police arrival and a canvas of the area returned with negative results. The suspect is described as a white male, 30 – 40 years old, 5’7″ – 5’9″ tall with a lanky build. He has dark hair, a dark brown goatee with highlights of gray and stubble around the cheeks. He was wearing a tan hoodie and baggy, light blue jeans at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
At a ribbon-cutting yesterday (Thursday), Arlington’s Montessori community celebrated the landmark ribbon-cutting for Virginia’s first standalone public K-5 Montessori school.
For years, the Arlington Public Schools’ Montessori program operated as an entity within Drew Model School. But now, the program has launched its own school inside 701 S. Highland Street — formerly Patrick Henry Elementary School.
Faculty, parents and students all celebrated the new opportunities that come with having their own school. School Board member Monique O’Grady compared the change to a metamorphosis befitting the new school’s mascot: a butterfly.
The Montessori Method is an educational philosophy that emphasizes nurturing a love of learning by offering students more educational freedom than what’s found in a traditional public school.
“Our teachers have always done a great job, but here we can carry the Montessori philosophy out of the classrooms and into the halls or outside,” Principal Catharina Genove said. “It adds to their community and it encourages collaboration throughout the hallways.”
The school currently has close to 500 students, selected through a lottery system held every spring. Students in the school traditionally stay with the same teachers for three-year cycles.
The path to the Montessori School’s independent opening was fraught with some controversy, most recently with parents from the Patrick Henry Elementary School saying they felt betrayed by the School Board’s decision to break up that school population.
“No project planning is smooth, but you persevered,” School Board Chair Tannia Talento told the crowd at the ribbon-cutting. “You have advocated and made all the efforts to get us here.”
Students at the opening sang a modified version of the Lil Nas X hit “Old Town Road” before proceeding inside to tour their new classrooms. Inside, teachers greeted old students and helped calm down children who were stressed about the new location.
“As of today, there are 502 public Montessori schools across the country, and [around] 300 of them opened in the last 10 or 15 years,” said Katie Brown, Director of Professional Learning at the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector. “This shows an increasing demand for a holistic and child-centered approach. It’s [a program] that’s gone from the margins of education into the mainstream.”
“Montessori has been traditionally viewed as a program accessible only to the wealthy due to the high cost associated with it,” said Mrinal Oberoi, a PTA member. “It has been made especially famous by the likes of Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Stephen Curry, etc. MPSA makes Montessori education accessible to all.”
Students at the opening said they were excited to feel less cramped than in their previous school.
The change also comes with a handful of new transportation changes. Residents will likely notice more busses in the area since the school is a countywide program, according to a press release from APS.
Other changes include:
- The entrance on S. Highland Street will be bus-only and one way, with buses exiting on Walter Reed Drive.
- The south entrance to the building, next to the library, will not be available to entry from 7:30-8:30 a.m. to accommodate bus traffic.
- Parent drop-off is in the nine spaces between the 15-minute parking signs on Highland Street with queuing on 9th Street S.
‘Mabel’s Restaurant’ Coming to Arlington Heights — The restaurant coming to the grounds of the Dominion Apartments, at the former Sherwin Williams paint store (3411 5th Street S.), is called “Mabel’s Restaurant.” An outdoor seating area is planned for the restaurant, according to permit filings. [Arlington Economic Development]
Northam Visits Amazon — “In June, we were excited to open our first temporary office space for our Arlington headquarters in Crystal City. Today, we welcomed @GovernorVA to tour our new work space and meet with Amazonians from the Commonwealth.” [Twitter]
Crystal City Conducting Survey — “The area encompassing Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard – Arlington is a dynamic mixed-use urban center and Virginia’s largest walkable downtown… we are embarking on a place branding effort to uncover our neighborhood story and create a striking visual identity.” [Crystal City BID]
History of Heidelberg Bakery — “Heidelberg Bakery is a local landmark in Arlington… In this oral history clip, Carla and Wolfgang Buchler, owners of the Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe, discuss the lack of diversity in breads that Wolfgang found in America when he first came to the U.S. in the 1970’s–and how tastes have changed, partly due to Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe’s delicious treats.” [Arlington Public Library]
Glebe Road Bridge Project — “The Virginia Department of Transportation on Tuesday, Aug. 13 will hold a community forum on its plans to rehabilitate the Route 120 (North Glebe Road) bridge over Pimmit Run to improve safety and extend the bridge’s overall lifespan. The event will be held on from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Williamsburg Middle School, 3600 North Harrison St. in Arlington.” [InsideNova]
‘Drunkard’ Ruling Won’t Be Appealed — “Virginia’s attorney general on Friday said he will not appeal a ruling that struck down a state law allowing police to arrest and jail people designated as ‘habitual drunkards.'” [Associated Press]
Oil in Sink Causes ‘Fatbergs’ — “If you pour used cooking grease down the kitchen sink, you’re not alone — according to a new survey, 44 percent of respondents in the D.C. region pour cooking oil, fat, or grease down the sink at least occasionally. In doing so — rather than dumping it in the trash–you may be contributing to the creation of something truly horrifying — a fatberg.” [DCist]
The Arlington County Board made the unusual move of extending weekend operating hours to 2 a.m. for one Columbia Pike establishment — but it’s not for a bar.
The Board granted permission for the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) to hold community events until 2 a.m. on weekend nights. In exchange, staff from the office building at 901 S. Highland Street will be responsible for keeping the noise down, and ensuring there are two security personnel present in labeled vests.
“It’s outcomes we care about,” said Board Chair Christian Dorsey after a lengthy back-and-forth over the number of security personnel needed to accommodate the event space. The Board voted unanimously to grant ECDC a use permit after Board member Katie Cristol proposed an amendment to keep the current requirement of 2 staff members.
“It’s pretty unusual extending events to 2 a.m., particularly in a space that abuts a more residential area,” said Cristol.
“The reason I’m comfortable taking this unusual step is all of the work all of you have done,” she said, citing sound-proofing and traffic management measures ECDC has taken over the past several years.
“I think it is going to accommodate the needs of our community,” ECDC President and CEO Dr. Tsehaye Teferra told ARLnow today (Tuesday). “In times of death or joy people need a space to gather and we are meeting that need. That’s how we started it.”
The development council has provided language and job training to Ethiopians who have newly immigrated to the United States since 1983 and advocates for the D.C. area’s growing Ethiopian community. ECDC’s office along Columbia Pike also serves as an ad-hoc community center by letting members rent out space for events, from celebrations to memorial services.
County planner Matthew Pfeiffer presented recommendations to the Board that ECDC be granted longer opening hours — as long as they provide three staffers to oversee operations to direct “potential impacts away from N. Highland Street.” Under the county’s proposal, ECDC would be required to provide two staffers to monitor the events and provide security, and the third would be dedicated to managing noise and traffic on N. Highland Street.
Teferra protested the increased staffing requirement, saying it should be up to ECDC to set appropriate staffing levels in order to keep cost of renting the spaces low.
“If we are required to have three staff at all times, financially it is not sustainable,” he said.
The newly-extended hours would only apply to one of ECDC’s buildings: the “front” building on the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Highland Street, which has a 3,762 square-foot ballroom. ECDC’s rear office building also has a 1,437 square-foot space that will stick with the old midnight closing hours for weekend events, Teferra says.
ECDC requested later hours for the ballroom to help serve a community that includes people working late shifts in restaurants and hotels that conflict with the current closing times.
Teferra added that although many of the community members work in hotels, it’s hard for them to afford the activity space in hotels, and not all locations allow them to bring in their own food. Other places, like apartment party rooms, sometimes require guest lists which are difficult to manage for drop-in events like wakes.
“In many cases, most people work until 8 or 9 p.m. and events don’t start right away,” he said. “So in the past we had the limit was until 11:30. By the time the party started then it’s over.”
Teferra told the Board that ECDC usually hosts at least one community event per month, including memorial services, christenings, weddings, graduations, religious ceremonies and birthday parties.
The council also holds other events, like job training events.
He told ARLnow that not every event is a nighttime one — most christenings happen in the morning, for instance — and that ECDC plans to end most weekend nighttime meetings before 1:30 a.m.
Pfeiffer noted that neighbors “fairly clearly” did not support the request for long hours when the county engaged the Arlington Heights neighborhood. Teferra disagreed, saying the ECDC gathered over 100 signatures of support from neighbors.