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Zoning board approves East Boston pot shop closer to another proposed pot shop than allowed by city ordinance

The East Boston Times-Free Press reports the Zoning Board of Appeal gave a variance to the owners of a proposed pot shop at 71 Maverick Square, less than a half mile from another pot shop the board approved in March.

Both stores still need approval of the state Cannabis Control Commission before they can open.

An ordinance passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor Walsh calls for at least a half mile of separation between marijuana facilities. Both proposals came up at the same meeting, but after the board approved the Meridian Street proposal, the operators of the Maverick Square one asked for a deferral - they eventually got two - to try to work something out with the city.

Because of the city ordinance, the board gave East Boston Bloom a variance for its Maverick Square proposal, which is meant for conditions in which city zoning causes an unusual hardship for a property or business owner.

The confusion over the two proposals sparked angry words by city officials on all sides. Councilors Michelle Wu (at large) and Lydia Edwards (East Boston, North End, Charlestown) held up mayoral appointments to the zoning board until the applicants announced whether they would support the half-mile limit.


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Why can liquor stores be .2 miles apart but pot shops need to be further separated? Serious question.
Also the people who complain about congestion related to people visiting pot shops are the same people who want less pot shops. If there was only one package store in town then everybody would flock to that one store.

Voting closed 3

The ratio required , I believe, is one for every four liquor licenses in a city. I know Chelsea so I will use us as an example, that would be 4 licenses. Chelsea is 1.5 square miles. So approximately 1.5 in one direction and 1.5 in another with a 1.5 diagonal (We are not a square but it would be harder to visualize with our true shape.) There are also rules about placements near schools and some want restrictions on placement near parks.

So looking at our dense subject, Chelsea. Removing school zones takes out a huge portion of real estate. If we were to obey all the laws at the same time and had a .5 mile rule in full effect I do not know how you would be able to get four in without putting them literally on side residential streets in people homes.

I suspect that Boston may very well be the same way. The City Council in Boston in fact has been pushing for more and more liquor licenses which will then increase Marijuana licences.

The question becomes, if you are in full support of the .5 mile rule then show a map where all the required shops and facilities can go. Otherwise risk a lawsuit from potential license holders who accuse the city of creating a defacto bottleneck strainer that limits the required number of locations.

Voting closed 2

State requires a 500 ft buffer between marijuana businesses and public and private schools. Preschools are not mentioned in the law. It is not a far distance and business districts in Boston will be able to accommodate this.

State law compares the number of marijuana businesses a city or town should have to the number of package stores. This does not include on-premises consumption liquor licenses like the ones the City is trying to increase for additional restaurants.

Voting closed 3

Anon, the problem is not really the 500 foot rule by itself. It is the 500 foot rule on top of the half mile rule. These business districts you mention can absorb the licenses but only if they are allowed to. With the .5 mile rule if I were to drop a business in the middle of Maverick Square in East Boston it wipes out a .5 mile in every direction. Which from point to point becomes a 1 mile no go zone. Then you add in the 500 foot school rule... if you pull up a map it starts to show you how few options you begin to have.

Voting closed 5

So many laws specify distances in this way. In a sparsely populated area, 500 feet is basically right next door. Downtown, 500 feet is practically in a different neighborhood.

There are lots of other ways you could specify how far apart things need to be, for example related to the density of nearby population, but they might require (Heaven forfend!) that legislators, policymakers, and enforcers actually do basic arithmetic.

Voting closed 2