Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

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A recent issue of the Falls Church News-Press contained a brief item about a possible “strip club” opening at the site of the former Bennigan’s Restaurant at The Corner at Seven Corners, just north of Route 50.

As I indicated when the editor contacted me, the new establishment, called “The P Club,” applied for, and received, a Fairfax County permit for an eating establishment, requested another permit for a dance floor, and also received a license from the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), a state agency, to sell alcohol. The C-7 (Regional Retail Commercial District) zoning allows restaurant uses by-right. No public hearing or action by the Board of Supervisors is required because the use is accommodated within the zoning category approved by the Board when the shopping center was built in 1984.

The P Club finally opened for business earlier this month after careful monitoring of its permits by state and county inspectors. There was no indication of live entertainment, stripping, or pole dancing. The business did not violate its maximum occupancy limit, but was issued a written warning for violation of state ABC laws. The state-issued permit allows sale of alcohol, but the stock of alcohol to be sold also must be purchased in Virginia, and have a Virginia tax stamp. Selling out-of-state alcohol is a violation of the permit, and the illegal alcohol can be seized by state agents. (Note to summer partiers: that nice cold keg of beer must be purchased in Virginia if it is served in Virginia.)

State ABC laws are administered under Title 4.1 of the Code of Virginia. Permits are granted to businesses and private parties upon written application and payment of a fee. Business applications are vetted through the local police departments, including background checks for any previous criminal activity. Common violations of ABC laws include sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages without a license, drinking in public, public intoxication, and possession of alcoholic beverages by persons less than 21 years of age. If a permitted licensee is proven to be a habitual violator, they may be subject to a criminal charge of maintaining a common nuisance. A conviction on such a charge carries a penalty of up to 12 months in jail, a $2500 fine, or both. The property also may be seized and forfeited to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Lesser corrective actions include payment of fines and/or forfeiture of the liquor license.

Neighbors were absolutely correct in contacting my office and the zoning enforcement division when rumors of a strip club started circulating. Quick action by the county, before the establishment even opened, gave a heads up to the owners and operators that the community expects them, and their customers, to maintain our public standards and abide by the law. State and county inspectors continue to monitor activities at The P Club to ensure adherence to the terms of its permits to operate an eating establishment. Any violations will be dealt with quickly by ABC agents, zoning inspectors, and/or Fairfax County police.

 


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov

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