The Zoning Board of Appeal today approved a proposed cannabis shop at 31 Cambridge St. in Sullivan Square, roughly 1,500 feet from another proposed cannabis shop it approved a couple months ago.
It's the latest case in which the board has approved two nearby marijuana shops despite a city ordinance calling for at least a half mile distance. Both proponents still need approval of the state Cannabis Control Commission before they can open.
As she has at other marijuana hearings, board Chairwoman Christine Araujo decried the "awkward position," the board has been put in by City Hall officials, currently the Boston Cannabis Board, who keep approving proposed shops closer than the distance set by the City Council. Board member Mark Fortune made the formal motion to approve the shop after saying he agreed with Araujo.
Two years ago, City Councilor Lydia Edwards angrily denounced both Mayor Walsh and the zoning board when the mayor's office urged the zoning board to approve two East Boston shops less than a half mile from each other. Today, however, she urged the board to approve the proposed Resilient Remedies on Cambridge Street, a short walk from the proposed Heritage Club shop, also on Cambridge Street, but closer to the Somerville line.
Edwards, who wants to strip the zoning board of any say in marijuana siting, said she has never seen as much community support for a marijuana proposal as she had for the plans proposed by Jack Kelly and Dot Joyce, both of whom worked at City Hall during the Menino administration. "They've earned trust and respect from community members," she said. At the June hearing on the Heritage Club, Edwards's aide neither supported nor opposed that proposal, instead leaving the question up to "the board's discretion."
Kelly is a fourth-generation Charlestown resident. Other supporters, including the steering committee of the Charlestown Coalition, praised his lifetime of working for Charlestown.
As a recovering heroin addict, he is eligible for preference as an "equity applicant" under state marijuana regulations.
Joyce said she does not feel there were be much direct competition between the two shops in part because Resilient will focus on the use of marijuana as part of overall wellness programs while the other shop will sell marijuana for strictly recreational purposes.
People opposed to the shop cited traffic - the intersection of Maffa Way and Cambridge Street is one of the worst, and most deadly, in Charlestown, they said. Opponents also cited the lack of parking and some specific operational issues unique to the building, such as the fact the shop would use the basement for storage, which requires blocking all non-employee access there, in apparent violation of state codes that give the building's residential tenants the right to access utility meters that are housed there.
Dan Linskey, Resilient's security consultant - and former BPD superintendent-in-chief - however, said the basement concerns can be handled through architectural means, to give residents access to their meters while blocking them from access to the marijuana part of the basement.