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West Roxbury could be launchpad for chain of kosher hotels

Trabelsi and proposed King David Hotel in West Roxbury

Trabelsi with rendering of his proposed King David Hotel.

Developer Nissim Shimon Trabelsi says he's talking to several hotel management companies - including the one that runs the King David Hotel in Jerusalem - about running the chain of hotels he hopes to start with one on VFW Parkway in West Roxbury at the Dedham line.

At a community meeting called by the BRA tonight, Trabelsi told both the local union construction workers and the members of Temple Hillel B'nai Torah of West Roxbury who made up much of the crowd that he's very willing to hire union workers to build the 69-room hotel where the old McDonald's used to be - and to then staff the hotel with union housekeepers and maintenance workers.

The temple's rabbi, Barbara Penzner, said members of her congregation are looking forward to a place where their relatives can stay and where they can get a glatt kosher meal - if they can be assured that the people serving them are unionized. In addition to a glatt-kosher restaurant, the hotel will also have his and hers mikvah baths for observant Jews - along with a swimming pool, ballroom and pool.

Although union members and Penzner pressed him to sign agreements now committing both him and whatever hotel-management firm he hires to go 100% union, Trabelsi said he doesn't want to sign any binding agreements until after he wins approval from the BRA.

The BRA board has yet to schedule a vote on the proposed hotel - and will be accepting comments from the public for another two weeks. The hotel does not need approval by the zoning board.

With the union issue out of the way, Trabelsi then had to answer to a West Roxbury resident who said she just couldn't understand why he wanted to build a hotel in her "kind of dull and boring" neighborhood of single-family homes occupied by quiet people who just pay their taxes and send their kids to school.

Trabelsi said the old McDonald's site - sandwiched between a car dealership and a pet-supply store, just up the street from Boston's only trailer park and within a short walk of both a large apartment building and a six-story condo building - "is the most beautiful lot on the whole VFW Parkway."

He noted it's just 300 feet from the Charles River, is bordered by woods and is right across the street from both a McDonald's and a Burger King. "We have everything there," he enthused.

A member of West Roxbury's Jewish community said he, for one, is looking forward to a place where he can put up his relatives that is closer than Newton or downtown - and where he can get a meal that doesn't involve a trip to Brookline or downtown.

The meeting got briefly testy when one of the union members noticed another person in the District E-5 community room was videoing the presentation with his cell phone and demanded he stop. The man said it was a public meeting. A BRA rep said you could only record if you let people know at the start of the meeting, the man protested again, but agreed to stop when the police officer sitting behind him agreed with the BRA rep and told him to stop. Then the union guy said that was good, because otherwise, he would have stopped the recording himself.

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Then the union guy said that was good, because otherwise, he would have stopped the recording himself.

Cuz datz wut yoonyun gize doo?

And silence filled the room after that, of course, because no one here in Union City would dare to tell the guy he's coming on too strong.

Love to see the goon, uh, guy on camera...

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Y'all have heard, ah say, y'all have heard of the market's "invisible hand" now, right?

Walp, son, that theah's the invisible FIST of of them union boys who rule this heah place! Ain't no two ways 'bout it.

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Usually, the union folks are glad I'm recording.. What's different 7 miles away in Boston that makes them dislike it?

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I was at this meeting and I can't believe I didn't spot you. You've covered at least a dozen protests and meetings that I've been to, and I never see you.

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I was sitting next to the girl who asked the question about whether the restaurant would be open on Saturday (the equally stealthy Kidlet). Where were you?

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I was with the union folks on the right and asked about successorship. I thought the cops were going to tackle the weirdo who wouldnt stop filming.

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Why do you have a problem with a public meeting being recorded?

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I don't whatsoever but apparently you have to inform people before you start. At least that's what the police said.

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I don't know what this word means with respect to a hotel.

(Also, why would you object to filming?)

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Glatt kosher and all that.

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Such places often have restaurants that allow guests to arrange and prepay for Friday night and Saturday meals on Friday before the Sabbath starts. I would think that this place would have to have such an arrangement for its Sabbath-observant guests, given the lack of alternative possibilities for meals. But I can see how a random person wouldn't be able to just walk in on the Sabbath and order food that wasn't prepaid.

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He noted it's just 300 feet from the Charles River, is bordered by woods and is right across the street from both a McDonald's and a Burger King. "We have everything there," he enthused.

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While the hotel will obviously cater to people who keep kosher, anybody will be able to stay there, so the proximity of two burger joints is a plus (also nearby: Boston's only Taco Bell, which is paired with what I think is Boston's only Long John Silver's, and a place that sells bagel-like round bread substances).

Also, and quite obviously, the hotel restaurant will be closed on Saturdays (although they'll have food available, just that was cooked the day before).

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I'm a Northeastern alum, so I am legally obliged to point out that the food court at Curry has a taco bell, making two of them in Boston.

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I wanted to but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. So I'm asking, have you tried the food at Long John Silver and was it good or did you have a stomach ache after or both?

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It's a place that makes Red Lobster seem gourmet. I will admit we went to the Taco Bell once, to try out some new thing (the Doritos tacos, I think). The interior was surprisingly nice (a flower vase on every table).

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make taco bell food inventions seem alluring. other trends in fast food such as using boneless fried chicken as the bread in a sandwich are hilarious, and I imagine, tasty high calorie inventions. I used eat fast food and as a practice I don't anymore but it would be nice to find a place to get fried fish without a side of stomach ache.

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Not that it couldn't up its game, but...

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Which is where they started, it's fine. But if you're used to the sort of bagels you'd get at, say, Rosenfeld's or, even closer to that stretch, Bruegger's or Cafe Fresh Bagel, just, no.

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That's a rough patch of road to cross the street for Micky-D's. Anyone propose a pedestrian bridge?

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It's not far from the uturn -- might be more cost effective to advocate for some lights there.

Alternatively most people will probably just drive, it's not like the hotel is transit accessible to start with.

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Actually "most people" presumably won't go to McDonald's or Burger King at all if they're staying at this hotel, so it's pretty much a non-issue.

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However:

He noted it's just 300 feet from the Charles River, is bordered by woods and is right across the street from both a McDonald's and a Burger King. "We have everything there," he enthused.

The 'He' being the developer, Trabelsi.

Enthused. ENTHUSED!

(edited for misspelling)

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Yes, I realize that, but we're posting on a thread that originated with Elmer mocking that very idea.

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The guy should have kept recording. It was a public meeting, regardless of the ignorance on the part of the BRA official, the cop, and the union thug, and no one there had a right to invoke the wiretapping statute. If he'd been arrested, he could've gotten a nice payout from the city after suing them. This issue has been happening all over the country with cops trying to interfere with either recording of them or of public government meetings; virtually all of these cases have been resolved in favor of recording. Around here, specifically, a 1st Circuit Court decision Glik v. Cunniffe applies. Glik got $170,000 from Boston because of nonsense like this. The cops are supposed to have been retrained over this issue but a lot are still demonstrably ignorant of it.

Here is a nice summary of police abuse of the wiretapping statute and the numerous court responses in favor of defendants. In New Hampshire, I personally know a group of activists who got settlements in the thousands (one was $30,000, the others in the $5,000 range) from the Town of Weare over this kind of abuse. This obviously un-retrained cop could've cost the city lots if they had yet another case go to court over abuse of this statute.

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I am not lawyer but I find the question interesting.

another person in the District E-5 community room was videoing the presentation with his cell phone and demanded he stop. The man said it was a public meeting. A BRA rep said you could only record if you let people know at the start of the meeting

I assume the BRA rule is a real rule they've documented as a condition for participating in their public meetings about land use proposals by private developers. Does the rule have a sound basis in law and BRA authorities or is it illegitimate and if so, why?

Glik v. Cunniffe says that a citizen can video+audio record policemen performing their duty in places as public as the Boston Common (the gold standard in public places, in other words, the most public of places.)

(1) Does the precedent set by Glik include video+audio recording of (all) participants at official BRA public hearings on proposed land use apply, and (2) if so, does the BRA requirement to pre-announce your intent to record violate the precedent? (3) if not, should we be looking prevailing law and whether (4) BRA has authorities to write their own rules in conflict with prevailing law?

Clearly these are open meetings for the public organized by a publicly funded govt agency. This one was held in a public place.

There is a public official, the BRA rep, and there are members of the public, some of whom may have an interest in reviewing and/or reporting the testimony accurately from a verbatim record.

What is the purpose that the rule serves? The informed consent of all participants or suppressing the record or both?

Does the BRA have an obligation to make their rules known prior to starting the meeting so participants, specifically participants who intend video know to comply so they don't forego the right?

Does this BRA rule violate the law?

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I have several clients of the faith who have lamented the lack of good Kosher venues in town. I can almost guarantee that I would be taking many out of town visitors there.

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Regardless of faith of any kind, is a hotel or additional residential structure of that magnitude a wise choice for the land in question?

This is on the edge of Boston bordering Dedham, and response for emergency vehicles is not exactly stellar. The closest fire station is on Centre Street across from CVS. The one on Washington Street would still need to turn around at Spring Street. Ambulance is stationed - when not in motion - at Faulkner Hospital. Under mutual aid agreements, Dedham does not respond there unless there is a specific fire confirmed. Ditto on EMS.

The emergency agencies will need to weigh in on a plan that works. If a workable plan for that many people is deemed not feasible, that could be a deal killer. Aside from the trailer park, the majority of that area is industrial and current response plans take that into consideration. Due to the remote nature a report of a fire could start several stations and two cities rolling with other units moving up on the checker board just in case. Not as easy as one might think.

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Or at the condos a little bit up the road? Or the commercial behind the Taco Bell/Long John Silver? Or the trailer park? Or the car dealership? Or the.. well, you get the point.

I think this is a good idea. And the guests will be just as safe as anyone else around there.

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A new building of this type will have sprinklers, alarms, horns and strobes, well defined egress paths, fire-rated stairwells, etc. Patrons will be able to get out of the building safely and they can stand outside until the fire department and other emergency response vehicles arrive.

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The emergency agencies will need to weigh in on a plan that works.

They do weigh in. If the Design Team and Developers are smart, they have a plan review meeting with the Fire Department over at 1010 Mass Ave mid-way through the construction document process where the FD Fire Prevention Inspector weighs in on access around the building (for obvious reasons), where the FD Control Panel is in the building, the Knox Box location, the beacon (visible from the approaching street), type of alarm system, sprinklers (are they there?), egress paths for patrons, locations and quantities of horns and strobes, whether the building needs a repeater, etc etc.

Whether this put the project on their radar for street access from the closest Firehouse, I don't know. But presumably they are aware of these things.

Zoning actually allows for a Hotel - this is a Community Commercial Sub-District (Map 11E) and according to the Table of Use (Table B in the West Roxbury section of the Zoning Code found on the BRA website). It's Allowed - not even Conditional nor Forbidden. Conclusion: the FD is aware (or should be) that this type of building would land in this sub-district.

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Seems like this guy has it together and all his ducks in order, so its a win win for everyone. I can't see why anyone would oppose this at all.

On a different note, every time there's a discussion that relates to Judaism on here, I learn so much about it. The last time Adam posted about this hotel I learned so much about how a hotel can operate during the Sabbath. My Jewish relatives would be happy. (I am not Jewish myself, but I have many, MANY relatives who are). So thanks guys!

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In Massachusetts what are the laws regarding recording a Public Meeting?... During a Public Meeting is it okay for the public to begin recording at any time?
http://listserv.syr.edu/archives/foi-l.html

Any member of the public may make an audio or video recording of an open session of a public meeting. A member of the public who wishes to record a meeting must first notify the chair and must comply with reasonable requirements regarding audio or video equipment established by the chair so as not to interfere with the meeting. The chair is required to inform other attendees of any such recording at the beginning of the meeting. If someone arrives after the meeting has begun and wishes to record a meeting, that person should attempt to notify the chair prior to beginning recording, ideally in a manner that does not significantly disrupt the meeting in progress (such as passing a note for the chair to the board administrator or secretary). The chair should endeavor to acknowledge such attempts at notification and announce the fact of any recording to those in attendance.
http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law/attorney-g...

Section 20. [Meetings of a Public Body to be Open to the Public; Notice of Meeting; Remote Participation; Recording and Transmission of Meeting; Removal of Persons for Disruption of Proceedings]...
... (f) After notifying the chair of the public body, any person may make a video or audio recording of an open session of a meeting of a public body, or may transmit the meeting through any medium, subject to reasonable requirements of the chair as to the number, placement and operation of equipment used so as not to interfere with the conduct of the meeting. At the beginning of the meeting the chair shall inform other attendees of any recordings.
THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
OPEN MEETING LAW, G.L. c. 30A, §§18-25
This version of the law is current as of April 7, 2015.
NOTICE: This is NOT the official version of the Massachusetts General Law (MGL). While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy and currency of the data provided, do not rely on this information without first checking an official edition of the MGL.
http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/government/oml/oml-guide.pdf

(e) After notifying the chair of the public body, any person may make a video or audio recording of an open session of a meeting of a public body, or may transmit the meeting through any medium, subject to reasonable requirements of the chair as to the number, placement and operation of equipment used so as not to interfere with the conduct of the meeting. At the beginning of the meeting the chair shall inform other attendees of any such recordings.
https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleIII/Chapter30A/Sec...
General Laws
PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
TITLE III LAWS RELATING TO STATE OFFICERS
CHAPTER 30A STATE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE
Section 20 Meetings of a public body to be open to the public; notice of meeting; remote participation; recording and transmission of meeting; removal of persons for disruption of proceedings

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Was it a public meeting?

The BRA asked for it, but was it in fact the developer's meeting?

If it were a BRA meeting, yes, public meeting laws apply, but the meeting was run by the developer, so wouldn't whatever rules the developer wants apply.

I'm no expert in such legal matters, but it would appear that the meeting does not fall under the definitions from the Attorney General's guide.

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For a small (anything under 50,000 square feet) project like this, the BRA is mandated to hold a public meeting (not a hearing, which has different legal issues related to the Open Meeting Law, I guess). Although the developer (and his lawyer) obviously did most of the talking, it was led by a BRA planner.

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+1

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...become the next Kiryas Joel.

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Open Meeting Law Advisory Commission Chair Robert Ambrogi, Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey

Re: A suggested 2015 revised email form for Open Meeting complaint,

__________ _______________________________
ENSE PETIT PLACIDAM SVB LIBERTATE QVIETEM

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Office of the Attorney General
One Ashburton Place
Boston, Massachusetts 02108

OPEN MEETING LAW COMPLAINT FORM
Instructions for completing the Open Meeting Law Complaint Form

The Office of the Attorney General's Division of Open Government is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the Open Meeting Law. Pursuant to G.L. c. 30A, §23, the Open Meeting Law requires that complaints must first be filed with the public body that is alleged to have committed the violation, prior to filing a complaint with the Attorney General.

The complaint must be filed with the public body within 30 days of the alleged violation, or if the alleged Open Meeting Law violation could not reasonably have been known at the time it occurred, then within 30 days of the date it should reasonably have been discovered. The complaint must set forth the circumstances which constitute the alleged violation, giving the public body an opportunity to remedy the alleged violation.

Please complete the entire form, providing as much information as possible, to assist the public body in responding to your complaint. The Division of Open Government will not, and public bodies are not required to, investigate anonymous complaints. You may attach additional materials to your complaint if necessary. The public body may request additional information if necessary.

For complaints alleging a violation of the Open Meeting Law by a local public body, you must file with the public body and file a copy with the clerk of the city or town where the alleged violation occurred. For complaints alleging a violation by a county, regional or state public body, you must file with the chair of the public body.

If you are not satisfied with the action taken by the public body in response to your complaint, you may file a copy of your complaint with the Attorney General's Office 30 days after filing your complaint with the public body. The Attorney General's Office may decline to investigate a complaint that is filed with the Attorney General's Office more than 90 days after the alleged OML violation, unless an extension was granted to the public body or the complainant demonstrates good cause for the delay.

The complaint must include this form and any documents relevant to the alleged violation.

Page 1
Office of the Attorney General
Division of Open Government
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108

OPEN MEETING LAW COMPLAINT FORM
Office of the Attorney General
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108

Your Contact Information:
First Name: Last Name:
Address:
City: State: Zip Code:
Phone Number: Ext.
Email:

Organization or Media Affiliation (if any):
Are you filing the complaint in your capacity as an individual, representative of an organization, or media?
(For statistical purposes only)
[__]Individual [__]Organization [__]Media

Public Body that is the subject of this complaint:
[__]City/Town [__]County [__]Regional/District [__]State

Name of Public Body (including city/ town, county or region, if applicable):

Specific person(s), if any, you allege committed the violation:

Date of alleged violation:

Page 2
Description of alleged violation:
Describe the alleged violation that this complaint is about. If you believe the alleged violation was intentional, please say so and include the reasons supporting your belief.
Note: This text field has a maximum of 3000 characters.

What action do you want the public body to take in response to your complaint?
Note: This text field has a maximum of 500 characters.

Review, and submit your complaint
I. Disclosure of Your Complaint.
Public Record. Under most circumstances, your complaint, and any documents submitted with your complaint, will be considered a public record and available to any member of the public upon request. In response to such a request, the AGO generally will not disclose your contact information.

II. Consulting With a Private Attorney.
The AGO cannot give you legal advice and is not able to be your private attorney, but represents the public interest. If you have any questions concerning your individual legal rights or responsibilities you should contact a private attorney.

III. Submit Your Complaint to the Public Body.
The complaint must be filed first with the public body. If you have any questions, please contact the Division of Open Government by calling (617) 963-2540 or by email to openmeeting at state.ma.us.

By signing below, I acknowledge that I have read and understood the provisions above and certify that the information I have provided is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.
Signed: ___________________________________________ Date:____________________________
By filling in my name and checking this box, I certify that the information I have provided is true and correct to the best of my knowledge, and that I declare this as my signature on the form.
Declaration: [__]

For Use By Public Body. Date Received by Public Body:
For Use By AGO. Date Received by AGO:

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