Saying she has never opposed something so strongly – alleging that she was lied to by owners of The Heritage Club – Councilor Lydia Edwards said this week she will do all in her power to oppose the Cambridge Street marijuana applicant at its Boston Cannabis Commission hearing today, Nov. 12.
The Heritage Club said communication with Councilor Edwards has been spotty, and they feel her opinions of their application and their personal integrity is misguided.
“We believe that The Heritage Club is exactly the type of applicant that the Boston Equity Ordinance was designed to support and look forward to presenting our proposal to the Boston Cannabis Board,” read part of a statement from Heritage Club co-owner Nike John.
The showdown between Heritage Club and R2, owned by Charlestown’s Jack Kelly, on Cambridge Street has been going on for more than a month now – with both competing proposals holding community meetings late last month. Largely, Councilor Edwards has been absent that process due to the sudden loss of a loved one recently, and having taken time off to mourn. Now, she said she has returned to work and reviewed all of the meetings and information – putting it together with information she had before taking time off. With that all together, she said she is shocked and upset by the Heritage proposal and lack of honestly.
“They lied,” she said, referring to the ownership issue of the company that has been stated publicly, but inconsistent with what Edwards said she was told. “That is unacceptable to enter my district, and especially into Charlestown. They lied to me about the ownership and put in phony support letters with the wrong zip code and are in such a rush for no reason.
“It hurts me to oppose an equity applicant like them, but I refuse to allow a precedent to be set in my district for half-(expletive deleted), incomplete and lazy applications to win a license,” she continued. “I’ve never opposed something so deeply. This is usual for me to ask an applicant in the zoning process to wait a bit to come back with some better options…It’s the usual back and forth and they have not been willing to participate in that. I have never been so deeply offended.”
One major sticking point among many, Edwards continued, was the ownership makeup of the company, which has been a topic of discussion for several weeks as private investors engage in talks with the company. Edwards said in a private Zoom meeting some time ago, Heritage owners Nike John and Maggie Suprey said that New England Development owned 41 percent of the company, John owned 51 percent and Suprey 9 percent. In public meetings more recently, though, John and Suprey have said they are both 100 percent owners, but are talking with investors at the moment.
They have denied that New England Development is involved, as has New England Development. However, some executives from New England Development have been in investment talks with Heritage on their own accord separate from the company.
Edwards added that she is also offended by the rush to have a hearing at the Cannabis Board on Nov. 12, before she could adequately address her concerns with them due to taking time off for her loss.
“It’s the worst application I’ve ever seen,” she said.
Heritage’s John said they had reached out to Edwards on eight occasions and never heard back from her.
“After reaching out on eight occasions and receiving no feedback about our application, our team is delighted that Councilor Edwards has finally indicated the source of her trepidation about our proposal, even if it is misguided,” said John. “We are proud to be certified Boston Equity Applicants and have been transparent about our ownership structure through disclosures to the Boston Cannabis Board, stakeholders, and the community at large.”
Edwards said the communication has been clear to her, and in her opinion it has been offensive and snarky, she said. She said the cannabis regulations in Boston allow Heritage to jump to the front of the line at the Cannabis Board because they are a “true equity” applicant. R2 has a different social equity license that doesn’t allow fast-tracking because Charlestown – unlike Chelsea and 28 other communities in the state – is not an Area of Disproportionate Impact (ADI) from the war on drugs, as defined by the state and City (only Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan are ADIs in Boston). She said being patient and addressing her concerns wouldn’t have caused them to lose the competition.
“I don’t want anyone to ever look at what they did and think that’s how they will get a cannabis license or HCA in Boston – let alone my district,” said Edwards.
Heritage Club has a spot on the Cannabis Board’s Nov. 12 online meeting, which starts at 1 p.m.