UPDATE: License request rejected.
Grove Hall residents and religious leaders packed the Boston Licensing Board hearing room today to urge the board to reject a license request for a Blue Hill Avenue liquor store.
The proposed Blue Hill Liquors, 438 Blue Hill Ave., is "absolutely tone deaf to the people of Grove Hall," because Grove Hall already has eight liquor stores within a half mile of the proposed new store and because would-be owner Janika Rana went ahead with her license request despite residents telling her at an earlier community meeting that they don't want another liquor store, City Councilor Tito Jackson said.
Jackson added that what the neighborhood needs is not more liquor stores, but sit-down restaurants - like the ones in South Boston that crowded the board's agenda today, Jackson said.
Other elected officials, including Mayor Walsh, state reps. Evandro Carvalho and Liz Malia and city councilors Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi-George, Michelle Wu, Michael Flaherty and Ayanna Pressley sent aides to express their strong opposition to the proposal.
Rana's attorney, James Juliano, said that despite the existence of several liquor stores, Blue Hill Liquors would meet "the public need" by concentrating on Masssachusetts beers and wines and by offering wine tastings, which he said the current stores in the area do not. Rana, an Indian immigrant, would also offer classes for local women on becoming entrepreneurs.
Residents said that if Rana, who currently owns a convenience store on Tremont Street in the South End, wants to open a liquor store so badly, she should do so in Woburn, where she lives, not in a Boston neighborhood that is trying to clean itself up from problems caused in part by alcohol.
"I really, really resent the fact that most people are trying to use our community as a dumping ground," resident Fatima Mohammed said.
Juliano said Rana would take steps to avoid the loitering and other problems linked to liquor stores, including hiring Boston Police details if needed, requiring everybody, regardless of age, to present ID and banning anybody found to be buying liquor for minors.
But Emmanuel Tikili, who has long been active with programs at the Frederick Pilot School, said the last thing neighborhood students need are more liquor-store customers harassing them. "We are tired of people taking advantage of the young people of our community."
The board could decide whether to grant the license at a meeting tomorrow.