In its second go-around with Councilor Lydia Edwards, proponents for the Heritage Club cannabis shop on Cambridge Street seem to have fared no better than the first time – with the councilor late last week filing an opposition letter to the proposal on the final day for comment.
Edwards said she has sent in the opposition letter instead of sending in a letter of non-opposition or a letter of support. She and Heritage owner Nike John publicly clashed numerous times last fall when the proposal was on the front burner in the Town. Edwards staunchly opposed the proposal, saying it was unprofessional and needed work. She offered to help John in re-crafting the proposal and the Boston Cannabis Board agreed to allow that to happen.
Now, with a date before the Board looming again, Edwards said John has done nothing she asked her to do.
“Our communications haven’t gone well,” said Edwards. “I don’t want it to be personal and I don’t want it to be nasty. This is what we asked of her and as she said in her submission, nothing has really changed…I feel she’s had two shots and by now you should have some support in Charlestown. I want to be clear on this because there has not been on Charlestown resident that reached out to me in support of Heritage Club. There have been people from outside, but none from the Town have reached out. It’s a concern for me when you haven’t grown in your support.”
John, when contacted by the paper, said she had no comment on the letter, but was preparing to go before the Board for what would be her second hearing and, potentially, a vote.
In the letter from Edwards, she indicated that there had been no material changes to the plan, and she wanted to go “on the record in opposition to this application.”
That is a unique position for Edwards, as she didn’t opposed the matter in the first go-around in an official letter, but seriously challenged it in comments before the Board and in Patriot Bridge news articles. It is particularly noteworthy as it puts her on record as opposing an Equity Applicant for a cannabis license. Edwards was key to re-writing the cannabis regulations in Boston to favor Equity Applicants and to try to promote more minority-owned cannabis shops in the City. Now, the first applicant from Charlestown for a license before that Board under those regulations is a minority equity applicant, and Edwards has opposed it.
She has been clear over the last several months that her support of Equity Applicants depends on them being applicants that have a quality application and proposal. She does not feel that is the case with Heritage, she wrote. She was particularly concerned that Heritage would not be able to fulfill mitigation promises to the community.
“One of the areas of concern that I had last fall was regarding the positive impact plan and the feasibility of the closing cost assistance program,” she wrote. “Instead of using the opportunity of this second application to better explain how the program will work – such as application requirements, how financial need will be demonstrated, selection criteria for the 10 recipients, etc. – the applicant simply changed the name of the program…Between the proposed benefits of this program and the additional 3 percent of profits that are being promised as part of a ‘Lost Village Community Trust,’ I believe that the Charlestown community is being promised benefits that the applicant can’t deliver.” There has been no meeting posted yet for the Boston Cannabis Board, but it is expected that Heritage would be on an upcoming agenda – perhaps this month