The Boston Zoning Board of Appeals’ (ZBA) first vote to grant Conditional Use Permits to two adult use marijuana facilities in East Boston turned into a circus Tuesday afternoon.
After the Mayor’s Office signed Host Agreements with two proposed Eastie adult use marijuana facilities, one on Meridian Street and another proposed for Maverick Square, the ZBA voted in favor of granting a permit for only at Meridian Street.
However, as it became evident to the team proposing the Maverick Square facility that the ZBA was poised to make a motion in opposition, the team’s lawyer asked for and was granted a deferral. That team will come back to the ZBA on April 9.
Because the two proposals are less than a half mile from one another, the two facilities appear to be in violation of the Boston Zoning Code. While there is no state regulations of how close adult use facilities can be one another, the City of Boston adopted zoning that created a half mile buffer and prohibits two facilities from being within that half mile.
It seemed that the ZBA applied a sort of ‘luck of the draw’ scenario to the two proposals with
Berkshire Roots going before the board with its Meridian Square proposal first while East Boston Bloom was second on the ZBA’s agenda.
Going first Tuesday seemed to favor Berkshire Roots as they left the hearing Tuesday with a Conditional Use Permit for an adult use facility on Meridian St., while East Boston Bloom was forced to defer as it became evident that the ZBA was going to make a motion to oppose its Maverick Square proposal.
City Councilor Lydia Edwards expressed frustration at Tuesday’s outcome. Edwards was on hand to support East Boston Bloom because the proposal met her criteria for adult use facilities in the neighborhood as well as being owned and operated by Eastie residents, one of whom is an Iraq War veteran.
Edwards questioned whether or not the proposal she favored would have been granted its Conditional Use Permit had it gone before Berkshire Roots on the ZBA’s agenda Tuesday.
Berkshire Roots, the largest grower of cannabis in the Berkshires and the first medical marijuana dispensary in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, plans to open an adult use facility inside a retail space at 253 Meridian St.
The Bershire Roots proposal recently received support from the Eagle Hill Civic Association as well as support from the Mayor’s Office and some residents.
However, City Councilor Lydia Edwards and some residents went on the record in opposition to the location. Edwards and the handful of residents cited traffic congestion that already exists on Meridian Street as a cause for concern.
Edwards also raised the half mile buffer issue when the ZBA was taking testimony about Berkshire Roots. She urged the ZBA that if they were going to support one proposal over the other due to the half mile buffer rule the board should oppose the Meridian Street location.
That request seemed to fall on deaf ears as the ZBA granted the Berkshire Roots permit. Then, after hearing testimony in favor of East Boston Bloom the ZBA mistepped and made a motion to oppose before listening to the oppositions testimony. The motion was out of order and the testimony was allowed to go on, but the lawyer for East Boston Bloom saw the writing on the wall and quickly asked the ZBA for the deferral that was granted