Marijuana is supposed to be mellow, or so they say, but it’s been anything but that in Charlestown as the City upped the ante on the ultra-intense competition between two cannabis proposals vying for licenses in the Town landed public hearing dates on the same day, May 12, before the Boston Cannabis Board.
The Heritage Club was set to go for its second public hearing before the Board late on Wednesday, after Patriot Bridge deadlines, and in a bit of a surprise, Resilient Remedies (R2) from Charlestown’s Jack Kelly secured a long-awaited hearing on the same exact day.
“That’s must-see TV,” said one observer close to the situation.
And that it will be.
The Cannabis Board was only to hear proposals and testimony from the public at the meeting on May 12, and an actual voting meeting will be held next week to decide if one, both or none get approved for licenses to operate adult-use recreational cannabis shops in Charlestown. It would be the first marijuana venture in the Town since it was legalized several years ago.
The two proposals have come up against one another since last October when they both had community meetings scheduled within a week of one another – and a subsequent hotly contested discussion amongst people in Charlestown ensued about which one to support. Both are on Cambridge Street in the Lost Village, and existing and potentially increased traffic has been a hot-button issue in the process.
The Heritage Club by Nike John is an equity applicant, and as such, was able to secure a public hearing and vote late last year, but did not have the votes. They were told to go back and meet with the community and conduct a traffic study. That was done in the interim and a public meeting to present the traffic study took place earlier this year.
Neighbors, however, were not happy that the study did not focus on their neighborhood streets like Parker Street, and the meeting ended with little support for the proposal, which is located behind the Tavern at the End of the World off of Cambridge Street.
Last week, Councilor Lydia Edwards, who has attacked the proposal publicly and in writing on numerous occasions, entered a Letter of Opposition to the Cannabis Board on the matter.
That said, Heritage has submitted a complete application and has proposed a number of mitigation strategies, as well as has done what was asked of it in conducting the traffic study. That traffic study did reveal that Heritage would contribute very little to the current traffic situation in the area. However, much of the frustration behind the issue with Heritage is pre-existing traffic problems that have gone unaddressed for years.
Meanwhile, R2 by Jack Kelly – a life-long Charlestown resident – is a smaller proposal on Sullivan Square where the old bistro was located in years prior. It is described as a boutique cannabis retailer, and had its public meeting last October as well. However, it is a non-equity applicant and was not able to get a public hearing or vote until now as the line for non-equity applicants is much longer. So, as it turned out, R2 finally got its hearing on the exact same day as Heritage was able to come back for its second hearing.
While there isn’t any such head-to-head competition, it makes for such in the public square with both of them being on the same day.
One key piece of testimony is a long letter with several points delivered by the Sullivan Square Residents Association on Wednesday. That letter indicated there were too many issues with the location and the traffic for Heritage to gain their support. However, that Association did say it would support the R2 proposal because it was smaller and further down into Sullivan Square – not impacted the neighborhood nearly as much.
The voting meeting is tentatively scheduled for next Wednesday, May 19.