Some may consider them hooligans. Others may consider them disciples. But, as far as the District government is concerned, they’re history.
Last week the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs found nine male Georgetown students residing in a house on 35th Street to be in violation of District housing codes, which prohibit more than six unrelated people from living together.
The students lived in the house by filing as a religious community, originally calling themselves the Apostles of O’Neill. As of Oct. 16, their name changed to the Apostles of Peace and Unity. D.C. zoning regulations allow 15 unrelated people to live together if they file as a religious community.
On Nov. 21, however, the DCRA found that the students were using the house as a fraternity. An order to cease and desist presented to Brian O’Neill – the owner of the $2.4-million house and father of resident Brian O’Neill Jr. (COL ’08) – requested that at least three of the nine residents move from the house within 10 business days or secure the appropriate permits for off-street parking. The 10-day period ends Wednesday.
O’Neill Sr. had 60 calendar days to appeal the decision, according to the cease-and-desist order, but the order must be carried out in 10 business days regardless of whether an appeal is filed.
John Gallagher (COL ’08), one of the students living in the townhouse, declined to comment on behalf of the nine students about whether they planned to adhere to the decision and whether they planned to appeal.
Karyn-Siobhan Robinson, a DCRA spokesperson, said that the decision was determined based on D.C. zoning administrator Bill Crews’ definition of a fraternity house, which she said is “a group associated for a common purpose, interest or pleasure.”
According to the cease-and-desist order, Crews came to the decision after reviewing public statements and mail communications from the occupants.
“By using the definition of a fraternity and additional information, he feels that they fit that definition,” Robinson said.
The “Apostles” have been the subject of complaints from numerous neighbors who have said that they frequently throw loud parties.
Andy Solberg, commander of the Metropolitan Police Department’s second district, said that the police received complaints for noise violations against the students “at least on a weekly basis.”
“We went at least two different occasions to intervene with parties, and we had a sit-down meeting with the students and some parents to address the issue,” Solberg said.
If the occupants fail to comply with the order, O’Neill Sr. faces a possible civil fine of up to $16,000 and may face up to 90 days’ imprisonment, according to the cease-and-desist order.
O’Neill Sr. did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.