After waiting since October for a hearing date at the Boston Cannabis Board (BCB), Resilient Remedies (R2) owner Jack Kelly and his team were finally able to present their proposal to the Board last Wednesday, May 12.
R2 held its meeting last October with the community and has made other informal presentations at the neighborhood level as well. As a long-time member of the community and one that is proposing a smaller operation (about four registers), Kelly has received strong neighborhood support. However, due to the rules of the BCB with regards to equity, Kelly’s non-equity proposal had to wait in a long line to get a hearing date.
As it happened, his hearing came on the very same day as the competition, The Heritage Club, located just up Cambridge Street from R2’s proposed Sullivan Square location.
The R2 hearing was decidedly mellow as compared to the very dramatic hearing just prior with Heritage, where many accusations were made by supporters of Heritage about corruption in the process.
R2 Partner Dot Joyce said at the hearing they have proposed an operation that fits the scale of the neighborhood.
“R2 is designed to meet the scale of the neighborhood,” she said. “When Jack Kelly says he wants to do this right for Charlestown, he means in design, values, operations and scale. We will operate a very small, boutique-style cannabis retailer that helps our clients in seeking wellness through cannabis. In addition to offering high-quality products, we also plan to introduce complementary products like yoga and meditation – likely through partnerships with other local businesses.”
Joyce said they planned to work with the Bunker Hill Adult Education program, the Bunker Hill Community College and the Charlestown Resident Alliance (CRA) for a pipeline of employees, and they also committed to diversity goals in hiring. They also produced 241 letters of support from the community that they indicated were not form letters, but real letters.
Parking was one particular issue for the BCB, but consultant Ralph DiNicisco said there are more than 550 publicly available parking spaces in the immediate area, including the commuter parking lots that go for $6 to $9.
Joyce said, however, they would discourage driving in their customer base.
“Our interest is to support the people in the community and we know there are thousands of people that use that train station every day,” said Joyce. “We are going to actually discourage as many people as possible from coming to our location in a vehicle. Our whole business model is based on attracting customer coming to and from work, or who live in the community. We do not want to negotiate with our neighbors for the lot that is within our ability to use. We would rather have no parking and prevent people from thinking they can drive there than to offer even one parking space.”
BCB Commissioner Kathleen Joyce said there was a contradiction in the parking plan.
“I want to state for the record that you’re encouraging people not to drive, but your proposal identifies three adjacent parking lots, so your emphasis is confusing,” she said. “So it’s confusing to see where your emphasis is.”
Councilor Lydia Edwards voiced her support for the matter, saying the local ownership and local support weighed with her.
“You have a local person running this and you have local people who are part of the investment structure,” she said. “I have supported consistently my local residents or other residents. When it comes to my district in East Boston and Charlestown…I have stood beside the local owner even in cases where the community may have opposed the owner or expressed concerns.
“There are a lot of people who still don’t want this, but they’re willing to try if the size is something they feel they can work with,” she continued. “The community support has also impacted my decision. It is genuine, consistent, diverse and throughout all of Charlestown. It’s overwhelmingly from Charlestown and those that would be impacted by it.”
Resident Elaine Donovan reiterated that and said the smallness of the operation helped her to support it.
“I completely trust Jack and I trust them in this business because he is a local guy and it is a palatable size for this one square mile,” she said. “It is just 1,000 sq. ft. and it will be a small amount of business there. This is new to the City, but more importantly this one square mile. We’d like to tread lightly and start out slowly with this.”
Eileen Gorman of Mishawum said she was in support of it, even though she was reluctant about marijuana.
“I’m in support of R2,” she said. “I’ve known Jack for a long time…His proposal looks like the most beneficial for Charlestown. I’m a mom of four and it’s definitely something that’s more suitable to our Town. Marijuana makes me concerned, but he has a vested interest in our Town and I fully support his proposal.”
Maggie Suprey, a former co-owner of the Heritage Club, however, opposed R2 and wanted to know if they would have to go back and conduct a traffic study like Heritage had to.
“My question is will the same precedent be followed and will R2 be required to start the process all over and return to the community to present that traffic study as Heritage was required to?” she asked.
Said Dot Joyce, “We had always planned to do a traffic study and it was part of our community presentation to do a traffic study. We worked very closely with Brian Callahan, the head of the Sullivan Square Resident Association. I actually toured his streets and saw his concerns…”
One of the procedural issue hurdles for R2, BCB Attorney Leslie Hawkins said, was the order they were on the agenda and the impact of the half-mile buffer zone. Heritage Club is first on the agenda for voting, and if they are approved first, R2 would be subject to a buffer zone issue. They could still get a license, but would have to argue their case as to why two need to be within the buffer zone.
“Should the Board vote to grant that other application (Heritage Club) that would create a buffer zone at this location,” said Hawkins.