The Zoning Board today rejected the first of two two marijuana markets proposed for Nubian Square, at 195 Dudley St. after hearing from residents worried about the potential impacts on traffic and parking, all the school kids who traverse Nubian Square and addicts of harder drugs coming from nearby Mass and Cass.
Brian Keith of Rooted In, LLC, had proposed a roughly 1,500-square foot store and said that, unique among all other Massachusetts marijuana stores, the shop would close for an hour each day after schools get out to further keep kids away from the shop - even aside from the issue of banning anybody under 21.
The Boston Cannabis Board has approved a second shop at 2365 Washington St., but that has yet to come before the zoning board.
Keith acknowledge Nubian Square now has spillover from Mass and Cass, but said the issue is not that his store would sell addicts marijuana, but that Nubian Square becomes a sort of empty zone in the early afternoon, when shops close.
"Nubian Square is an extension of Mass and Cass because Nubian Square shuts down around 2 in the afternoon," he said. "There isn't enough activity in the neighborhood to keep that element out."
If anything, he said, his shop would help reduce that. By adding a store that would attract upwards of 300 people a day into the square - many of them who otherwise might never visit the square - his shop would help provide a more active street life that would keep people from Mass and Cass from wandering over, he said.
Roxbury Main Streets supported the proposal, saying it would be part of a healthy mix of stores vital to reviving Nubian Square.
But leaders of the Mt. Pleasant, Forest and Vine Neighborhood Association and the Nubian Square Coalition opposed it. Sadiki Kambon of the coalition said his group opposed the proposal because residents are trying to "get rid of the criminal element," not attract it with a pot shop right next to a liquor store. A Mt. Pleasant member spoke of "unethical, deceitful and unfair practices," by Rooted In, possibly involving Kim Janey quietly backing the shop.
Some 100 people submitted comments in opposition. Keith, however, said he had more than 400 signatures from local residents in favor.
The mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services, which normally either approves or disapproves of projects, said its official position was "non opposition," saying it was balancing Keith's efforts to bring about wealth equity in the cannabis business with neighbor complaints about traffic.
The board struggled just to get to the vote it took. Member Hansy Better Barraza at first moved to deny the project outright, because of neighbor concerns, but the motion failed. member Joe Ruggiero then moved to deny the proposal without prejudice, which would mean Keith could come back with a new proposal in less than a year, but that failed as well, as did a motion by member Mark Ehrlich to approve the project.
After all that, the board reconsidered again. "There are too many issues with this location," board Chairwoman Christine Araujo said. The board then voted 5-1 - with Erlich opposed - to reject the proposal.