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Bethesda Condo Owners Tired Of Noise From Nearby Lounge

by Aaron Kraut — May 2, 2014 at 1:05 pm 1,429 20 Comments

The Parva on Woodmont Avenue has caused noise complaints from condo residents at the Fairmont Plaza across the street

Condo owners in a Bethesda building say they’ve had enough of late-night dance music and unruly patrons at The Parva on Woodmont Avenue.

The owner of the restaurant says those condo owners are harassing him to the point of trying to shut down his business.

With Montgomery County looking for ways to increase its nighttime economy and attract a younger demographic to its downtowns, the years-long conflict between residents of Fairmont Plaza and the restaurant, bar and lounge across the street shows not everybody is on board.

“Our residents choose to live in downtown Bethesda because of the different options for dining and entertainment. We don’t want to not have those options, but this problem is that the bar just plays music at such a loud level,” said Fairmont Plaza resident Aaron Davis. “We’re taxpayers and citizens. We just want to be able to have the peaceful enjoyment of our homes.

“We go to work in the morning after not being able to sleep because the bass is coming through the wall,” Davis said. “That’s a huge problem for us. It really diminishes our quality of life.”

Issues between residents at the building and the business — at 7904 Woodmont Ave. — actually go back to before Juan Carlos Balcazar and his brother Edwin opened The Parva in July 2011.

Before the property was home to The Parva, a South American-style restaurant with a lounge and dancing area upstairs, it was home to Rarely Legal Grille. Before that, a restaurant and dance spot called South Beach Cafe leased the property.

When The Parva goes before the county’s Board of License Commissioners to renew its alcohol license on May 15, the residents of Fairmont Plaza plan to present a petition they’ve circulated that would allow them the chance to speak. It’s possible they will challenge the renewal of the restaurant’s license.

“They’re trying to harass me. They’re trying to shut me down,” Balcazar said. “It’s one of the worst cases I’ve seen. They don’t have any proof and we don’t have any citations for any alcohol violations. We’re the cleanest business in the area.”

At a meeting in February with county planners, a few residents in the 114-unit building said there was “universal opposition to the County Executive’s Nighttime Bethesda proposal, if it means extending bar hours and changing the revenue ratio.”

The proposal they referred to was actually a list of recommendations for improving nightlife from a county-formed task force of residents, business representatives and government officials. One of the recommendations was to move restaurant closing times one hour later to match neighboring jurisdictions. State lawmakers from the county successfully pushed that effort in this year’s General Assembly.

Throughout the Task Force’s work, county officials said they had anticipated more pushback on issues such as closing times and the food-to-alcohol ratio in restaurants.

Last year, Councilmember Hans Riemer released a survey in which 74 percent of 1,831 respondents said they identified more with the idea that the county needs to improve its nightlife options to attract younger residents. The competing statement, that the county should work to maintain its suburban character, garnered the support of 26 percent of respondents.

The group of residents at Fairmont Plaza has met with police and has another meeting with the county next week. It’s the county’s Department of Environmental Protection that enforces the county’s noise ordinance.

South Beach Cafe was the subject of three “Business Related Amplified Music Complaints” in downtown Bethesda since 2000, according to a list of the complaints provided in March by Environmental Protection.

Those complaints came in March 2002, November 2003 and April 2006. The Parva has never been the subject of a complaint in that category, according to the county.

“The police don’t really enforce the noise issue and the people at [Environmental Protection] go home at 5 p.m.,” Davis said.

And residents say the problem isn’t confined to high decibel levels.

“The people that come to Parva, they are not well-behaved. We’ve seen people acting really badly, like urinating in public — just drunk and disorderly behavior,” Davis said.

Balcazar was well aware of that complaint and called it “ridiculous.”

The Parva is in an area of Woodmont Triangle with a few bars and restaurants, including the now-shuttered BlackFinn American Saloon that was known as a late-night hotspot.

“Apparently, they say people are coming form all over the area and are on the streets and all that,” Balcazar said. “It’s nothing that we can control. We’re right in the middle of a lot of places. People would walk from BlackFinn into our area. There’s nothing that we can really do.”

Davis said the residents of Fairmont Plaza will have a more complete picture of exactly what type of resolution is possible after the Board of License Commissioners hearing on May 15.

“We tried to get them to change and they have no motivation to change,” Davis said. “Our hope is that we can get some kind of change in the next few weeks. People here have been talking to the restaurants there for five years about this. Nothing has happened.”

  • skip

    They should really look into tthe food / beverage split fo rthis place. there is no way they sell 50% food. while you are at it check saphire. the funn ything is these late night places are full of people who do not live in downtown bethesda and have no clue how to act in a populated area.

  • Fred

    Typical people who buy into an area with all of the amenities associated with nightlife and then try and shut down the ones they don’t want. I think they built the Kentlands for you. If it’s noisy then file a noise complaint. Obviously DEP does work after 5 as they cited South Beach several times.

    The Parva is kind of a skeevy place. And certainly not the cleanest, just check out the nasty garbage area right along the sidewalk at the north end of the building. But it takes variety to maintain a robust commercial district. Which is what Woodmont Triangle was long before these condos started showing up.

    If Fairmont Plaza wants to contribute to the neighborhood they could start by cleaning up after their little pugs and other toy dogs. Too many times I’ve seen them being walked and not cleaned up after.

    BTW, good balanced story.

  • MM

    Parva does not serve the same client base as any of the other bar in the Woodmont Triangle area. I would venture to guess 90% of their business comes from people who do not live in the Bethesda area (or Montgomery County) I’ve lived in that building since 2005 and would frequent the previous bars located there, South Beach, and Rarely Legal. There was also an Indian restaurant there that did not cause problems. The Parva does not attract a crowd we want in Bethesda

    • Gfocker

      Then it must be shut down!

  • rorojo

    Hmmm… reading these comments I am seeing enough waspy dog whistles to conclude that brown people must go to Parva.

    • Saddened

      Yep, pretty obvious. And judging from the comments of Lionsgate residents, every person of color in Bethesda must have been at Parva.

      • Cafe Olee

        It’s silly to assume this is about race. It’s about decency and respect. There’s no reason residents and Parva can’t find a middle ground. Rude is rude, regardless of race.

        And the fact is, Bethesda residents, by and large, aren’t the ones partying at Parva. The bulk of the constituency is from out of town, and therefore has no stake in the community. They lack incentive to behave well. No one’s saying they can’t party. It seems the concern is the noise and destruction that ensues.

        Drop the race card – it’s been played and dismissed. You make an invalid syllogism. If Parva has a strong minority constituency and they act in a bad way, it doesn’t mean anything more than Parva attracts the sort who simply behave badly. Race is coincidental. Just as all zebras have stripes, not all striped animals are zebras. Now back to logic class with you…

  • Joe

    Guys just wait until the purple lines come. Talk about undesirables coming to town…

  • Marie

    Can someone tell me the date that the residents will meet with the county next week to discuss the enforcement of the county’s noise ordinance?

    • Martin

      Unclear. I think you can look at the sign Parva is obligated to post indicating their liquor license is up for renewal. I think it’s orange colored. I imagine there will be a hearing date and time listed on that poster?

  • Mitchell P.

    I live in Lion’s Gate and many a night have witnessed the overly intoxicated leaving Parva and then driving home – they park in the public garage by our building. The police, who are on Parva’s roll, do little. The problem isn’t race. The problem is over service (Parva has bottle service and clearly over serves) matched with the fact that the folks who patronize the joint have to drive home, and for whatever reason, seem to lack good judgement.

    We need a robust nightlight, but we also don’t need patrons who scream in the streets. I’d be curious to know what it is about BlackFinn and Parva that attract the unruly sorts. I’ve seen Parva customers urinating in the alley, too, while walking my dog. The owner himself has problems with alcohol. He’s hammered much of the time, staggering in and out of the establishment.

    Then there was the night when an irate father of a teenage girl sped up and down the street screaming his daughter’s name. I was concerned enough I phoned the police. I told my friend who lives in Fairmont about hearing this. She heard the same, and told me she watched the girl leave Parva at around 4am, clearly underage and under the influence.

    Mr. Balcazar does not seem reputable, but rather “skeezy” as one commenter below wrote. I wonder, does Mr. Balcazar have a criminal record? Perhaps he’s not the best judge if he exhibits similar difficulties. Just because there are no reports from the Environmental folks, doesn’t mean there aren’t significant police records. Those are not for public consumption. It would be most interesting to find out how many calls are made and what happens.

    Recall last year the blotter mentioning arrest of a Parva patron who broke the jaw of a meter reader. He was found to have cocaine on his person in addition to the assault charge. Parva doesn’t attract the best crowd. Mr. Balcazar would do well to clean up his act

    • woodmont

      How did you know the man was an “irate father?” Did you go down and flag his car down and ask him? Why was your friend staring out the window at 4am? How was she able to know that the girl leaving Parva was underage or that she was the daughter of the man in the car?
      I’m not saying that the place isn’t a disturbance to some people but a lot of this sounds like gossipy busybody nonsense.

      • MItchell P.

        After I called the police, I requested they come see me. They explained the situation. The calls and responses are a matter of record. Surely they’ll be accounted for at the meeting on the 15th.

    • FairmontLionsgateracists

      racism is rampant at the Lionsgate. as a guest, i’ve heard residents complain about new hires because they don’t conform to the physical characteristics that the bigots in the building require. you’re in no position to speak

      i’ve witnessed intoxicated people leave EVERY bar in bethesda. it is so obvious why this bar is being chosen.

      “The owner himself has problems with alcohol.” i would familiarize yourself with the slander/libel laws. your comment has been recorded

  • Rookie Vee

    Ridiculous. Peace of mind and silent nights for the residents should always come first. It is not right that one only individual can annoy so many residents with his decision to make his money out of the suffering of many others, I bet he would not be happy if he had to listen to his own noise when it is his time to go to bed.

  • Espresso

    I bet it was a Fairmont Plaza resident that filed the complaint about that skateboard sign as well.

  • guest

    I live at the Fairmont Plaza, and have never heard any noise coming from the Parva. Possibly my unit is facing a direction that is not affected, and possibly I am a very deep sleeper… But ever since I started to hear other residents talk about this, I have been puzzled…
    Even last summer, when I used to return home late on a weekend and walked up Woodmont Ave from the Bethesda metro, I used to hear the music blasting from Blackfinn, but never from Parva. That’s just my 2 cents, but I have lived in the building for two years…

  • VoiceofReason
    • woodmonter

      Yeah, that’s what the future holds if 80 more bars open in Woodmont Triangle and 15,000 20somethings suddenly move from Arlington to Bethesda. One loud bar =/= monthly city-wide frat parties

  • WillBill

    Check this out: http://theparvacam.com – Complete with a countdown clock to whatever hearing is set for this week. Parva must really have pissed some people off.

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