In a letter to the Boston Cannabis Board (BCB) following the extended public hearing on the Heritage Club’s application for a marijuana store on Cambridge Street, Councilor Lydia Edwards is calling for the Board to defer the application and have them work more with her office.
The public hearing featured an animated rebuke of the license application by Edwards last Thursday, but it also featured the support of Mayor Martin Walsh and others. The license could be voted on as soon as this week, and is in competition with another proposal by Charlestown’s Jack Kelly in the same general area – though that proposal is not a Boston equity candidate and sits behind several other proposals in line for a hearing at the BCB.
Edwards has issued letters of support for the proposal by Kelly.
Edwards told the newspaper that her second letter, issued on Friday, is an open door to the owners of The Heritage Club – Maggie Suprey and Nike John – for a second chance. She said the ball is now in their court to pull back and use more time to iron things out, or move forward with her strong opposition.
“Although I don’t think this proposal is ready to receive a license from the Board next week, I do believe they can present a better application for future consideration,” the letter read. “The Board should give the applicants another opportunity to postpone in order to better their application. The applicants can decide if they want to do the work or go forward. I hope they will see this as an opportunity for a second chance. If they don’t or won’t then I painfully ask that you reject their application for a license.
“I have been clear about my concerns, but again valuing equity as a core mission of this body I ask that the applicants be deferred and given the opportunity to earn support, provide clarity, and present a better application,” she continued.
She said she hoped to use the time to do a traffic study/assessment; meet with her and bring the full ownership team and an attorney; and go back to the community with more clarity on traffic, ownership and community benefits.
In the four-page letter, Edwards identifies traffic, ownership, community support, time/communication and conclusions. She reiterated in her conclusions that the applicants haven’t communicated well with her or her office – something the applicants vigorously dispute and have rebutted. Edwards, however, said it wasn’t until the day of the hearing, Nov. 10, that the applicants reached out to her for her input.
“Communication from the applicants following their community outreach meeting focused almost exclusively on disparaging another application that’s before the Board,” she wrote. “It also questioned the transparency of the process and noted my call to Ms. Hawkins was an example of ‘behind the scenes’ communication. It was not until 4 p.m. on November 10 that the applicants (Ms. John) asked me for direct feedback on their proposal. By then, they had already made the decision to appear before you yesterday despite my opposition. That email was sent near the end of business on the business day before they appeared before you. It was too late.
“As I mentioned during my testimony yesterday, it hurts me to oppose this application because I want to see equity applicants enter this industry,” she continued. “But equity is about justice and healing. It is not about loweringstandards.”
The BCB was scheduled to have a voting meeting on Weds. afternoon, Nov. 18, beyond the newspaper’s deadlines. A vote was potentially scheduled, but at the Nov. 10 hearing some members indicated they had several questions about the application. Were they to be approved, that would advance them to the state Cannabis Control Commission’s process, which is also very involved.