Opposition continued last night to a proposed cannabis shop on Cambridge Street in Charlestown's Lost Village - the section of the Town cut off from the rest of the neighborhood by I-93.
At a neighborhood meeting, proposed shop operator Nike John and her traffic consultant presented a traffic study that showed her shop, at 116 Cambridge St. would do little to worsen the existing traffic hellhole caused by out-of-towners driving their cars and trucks through neighborhood streets on their way to Sullivan Square. And she said she would set up a Lost Village trust fund specifically for neighborhood projects - and would set aside up to $150,000 a year to help up to ten people make their closing costs on buying a new home.
John's attorney, Phil Silverman, said one reason the shop would not have much of a traffic impact is because by the time it opens, it would be pretty much a neighborhood concern, only pulling customers from the surrounding area. Traffic problems at shops elsewhere, he said, were caused by the fact there were so few shops in the state; by the time the Heritage Club opens, there should be at least 200 marijuana marts across the state.
"On a certain level, this is really a convenience store," Silverman said. "It's just a highly regulated convenience store, with significant security."
The proposed store is the same as the one that the Boston Cannabis Board rejected last fall, saying John and her then partner had to do more work on traffic issues and outreach with the neighborhood.
Silverman said the overall proposal, however, has changed significantly since then, in large part due to the traffic study, but also due to the fact that John would be the only owner and because her team has since put together a detailed security plan.
One resident praised John for getting the city-funded traffic study done; she said John "has done more [for the Lost Village] in three months than you guys have seen in what, 35 years?"
But other residents said the study was flawed because it concentrated on Cambridge Street rather than side streets, such as Parker and Brighton streets, which they said were equally hard hit by through traffic. They said their small neighborhood can't take any more, not when children are getting hit.
Some residents also said they could not abide a marijuana store in a neighborhood hard hit by the opioid crisis in the 1990s and early 2000s.
"We've been through hell and back with an opioid issue here, it's been horrendous," one resident said. Another said the neighborhood is still feeling the effects of the "atomic bomb" that he said the opioid crisis was in Charlestown. "We still see the walking dead going through our neighborhood." Another said she doesn't want to have to move but might if the store opens.
One resident even questioned whether John, who helped organize a weekly networking meeting for small-business owners in Charlestown, even lives in Boston.
"From what I understand, you live in Quincy, no?" John said she lives in Dorchester. "We don't even know you," the woman continued. The resident did not say whether she has raised a similar concern about other business owners in the neighborhood.
John said she is hoping to file her new application with the cannabis board by the end of the month. Should she win approval, she would also have to go before the Zoning Board of Appeal and then the state Cannabis Control Commission for approval.