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Board rejects more permanent entertainment license for Chinatown dim-sum place

The Zoning Board of Appeal today rejected a request from China Pearl, 9 Tyler St. in Chinatown for a live-entertainment permit, saying owner Brian Moy needs to first convince nearby residents the move won't mean extra late-night noise, crowd and safety issues in the tightly packed neighborhood.

The restaurant currently uses its second and third floors - which also cover Moy's neighboring Ruckus and Shojo - for weddings, receptions and other events roughly 40 times a year, but has to submit a separate application for each event to the Mayor's Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing.

Moy's attorney, Adam Barnosky said that with approval from the zoning board, Moy would seek an annual entertainment license that would let him run the events without having to submit 40 applications a year.

But two Chinatown neighborhood associations and City Councilor Ed Flynn opposed the request, saying it could lead to even more events being hosted there, which could adversely affect nearby "working families" and elderly residents.

Barnosky said that the licensing office would set the latest time for events on the upper floors, but said it would be no later than the 2 a.m. currently allowed for liquor sales at China Pearl. The restaurant's food-serving license allows it to stay open for just food and non-alcoholic drinks until 3 a.m.

Board member Norm Stembridge voted to deny the proposal without prejudice, which means that Moy could re-apply for a conditional-use permit within a year, after showing he had reached some sort of accommodation with nearby neighbors. Stembridge pointed to the prevalence of residents "who work long hours" and that any increase in activity in China Pearl's upper floors "could be a detriment" to the neighborhood.

Stembridge's motion was approved 5-2.

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Comments

It's downtown, this sort of thing should be rubber stamped, end of story.

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Voting closed 57

There is only one major city in all of New England. If you don't want to be near people going out to eat at 1AM live anywhere in New England other than Chinatown. This is like someone in rural Vermont complaining that they don't have a world class symphony in their neighborhood.

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Voting closed 39

…. find some other place to live. Then we can convert their homes to more luxury condos. Because why do they need to sleep anyway?

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Voting closed 29

Do they have problems sleeping now with the events the space is already holding? 40 events a year is nearly one a week; surely there would be a lot of evidence to point to if this was actually causing issues?

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Voting closed 30

… has not spoken to Flynn about this?
Chinatown has had many problems with noise and air pollution for a long time. He does attend community meetings.

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Voting closed 20

two Chinatown neighborhood associations and City Councilor Ed Flynn opposed the request, saying it could lead to even more events being hosted there, which could adversely affect nearby "working families" and elderly residents.

Using the word "could" rather than the word "does", seems to me, to imply that there isn't actually an issue with the existing events, which I find pretty crucial. Why would additional events necessarily be a problem if the current ones aren't?

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Voting closed 28

the urban core. As in the South End where I live, there will be residents who worry about noise, traffic and other knock-on effects of a new business venture. Their concerns should be heard.

I wish everyone weighed these decisions as I do: I value the extra dining / entertainment options, think more foot traffic makes us safer, want to support independent, local business owners, and so on.

But I can appreciate how some people might not: some new businesses can adversely affect peoples' quality of life, the value of their properties, ADA compliance on sidewalks, etc. I don't think steamrolling those concerns with blanket approvals is the right approach.

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Voting closed 37

Part of it is part of living in a city. I understand the noise issues. I live with a veteran who hates the sound of fireworks but some of it is that we lived in a city and rest, all I can do it complain on 311 etc.

The excuses of traffic and the children! are tired and over used. They are sported out for everything.

Have there be drunk people doing things they aren't supposed to do from that establishment? Is the music loud after 10 or 11? Can you give examples?

The blanket denying of stuff is not good either. Boston likes to be called a world class city but it is far from it. Having a place that serves tacos after midnight or a venue that wants more events, it should be seriously considered.

I lived in a part of Boston, where ordering food after 10 pm was not an option besides Dominos. (They have come a long way but still, it is a city!) I don't get done from work until 9 pm sometimes and I get tired and sort of hungry,

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Voting closed 31

are "nearby 'working families' and elderly residents" currently bothered by the existing events there? This seems like info that Ed Flynn and these neighborhood groups should be able to easily provide, and it's weird that the Mayor's Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing keeps allowing all these events if they're such a problem.

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Voting closed 38

and this isn't the only place in the city where it is being allowed. 40 in one year is clearly circumventing the intention of the ordinance.

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Voting closed 18

then in that case, surely that's something for Ed Flynn and these neighborhood groups to take up, no?

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Voting closed 13

Moy is asking for an exemption from the laws that govern. The burden is on him to prove that the exception is necessary and beneficial. The burden is not on the neighbors who simply want the existing rules applied.

If you think the laws are wrong, let me point out that we have a democratically elected government, and you should get busy gathering support, lobbying your existing elected officials, and working to elect new ones committed to bringing about the changes you seek. Expecting the appeals board to hand out exceptions to the rules because you don’t like the rules isn’t the way government is supposed to work.

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Voting closed 26

I see you make some variation on this comment a lot, and I guess I don't see why you're not out here gathering support, lobbying your existing elected officials, and working to elect new ones committed to getting rid of the Appeals board altogether if it's not supposed to be handing out exceptions to the rules.

Anyway, my argument isn't really about this particular rule, just that I wish our city councilors would make better arguments when making these determinations about what to support. And if I lived in Councilor Flynn's district, I'd tell him that directly.

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Voting closed 15

All I want is for the appeals board to follow the actual law that governs it, and only hand our exceptions that the law allows.

I believe we should have an appeals board because legislative drafting is an imperfect science, and any attempt to create rules will inevitably wind up with edge cases where someone is getting screwed by the rules in ways that the legislature creating the rules didn’t foresee. Which, in the world of zoning, which is not directly applicable to this case but adjacent to it, is exactly what Chapter 40a contemplates.

Chapter 40a allows appeals boards to grant variances under very specific conditions… basically if the applicant’s situation is legitimately unique, if the existing laws create a bonifide hardship related to that uniqueness, and the variance can be granted without detriment to the public good or contravening the intent or purpose of the underlying law. Not because the applicant is a nice guy whom the neighbors like: not because the ZBA likes the design of the proposed project. Not because the applicant is well connected and hired the right lawyer. And not because the appeals board thinks “we need more housing,” which is a policy matter that the legislative arm of government ought to address.

Done right, it’s pretty clean: the legislative body sets policy, and the appeals board deals with legitimate edge cases. In practice, Boston has failed to update its zoning laws and had de facto set policy via the appeals board, under a system in which everything is forbidden unless you get a variance. Which of course upends the way government is supposed to operate.

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Voting closed 9

"working families"

Is this the 2020's version of "But the children" ?

because this phrase gets thrown around like "but the children" like it did when something someone didn't like needed an excuse to oppose something when they didnt have anything else to say.

But "working families"implies there are families that don't work. And who those might be? (rhetorical) And for this single guy with no kids, get pushed aside for "working families" because its a good cookie cutter statement that sounds like 'we care' when in reality, you don't. Just say what you really mean.. your constituents.

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Voting closed 25

I’ve been to a few events there (which are on Friday and Saturday nights). You wouldn’t even think it was anything other than a restaurant if you stand outside. The soundproofing is great. Once you go in and go upstairs that’s when you can hear the music, not from outside so I’m confused about the noise complaints. I’m thinking the noise is coming from either the let out (which security clears pretty quickly) or from people waiting to get in. But is talking and laughing really that bothersome? It’s Chinatown, there’s always a ton of foot traffic until 3am anyways because of the restaurants around there. I’m not really seeing a reason adding the live entertainment would change anything

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Voting closed 19

I have been to about 5 weddings over the years at China Pearl and all but one had a loud DJ and dancing and a packed house, Aren’t we talking about wedding bands or local acts - not like BTS or Taylor Swift is going to give a concert dodging dim sum carts,

How about the double parking, traffic and general trash situation be addressed by Flynn and the city? Traffic is at a standstill and the air is pretty ripe with garbage on a hot summer night.

Maybe we need to look at improving Chinatown in general and not worrying that some live music is go8ng t9 make it anything worse.

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Voting closed 14

Like DTX.

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Voting closed 16

It would be AWE-SUM if Chinatown had a place with dim sum, super fresh full menu, liquor license, and live entertainment, Keno, and Scratch Ticket machines, and parking all rolled into one. Come on, City Hall pleeeez??

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Voting closed 11