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City approves pot shops in Fenway, Jamaica Plain

The Zoning Board of Appeals yesterday approved pot shops proposed for Brookline Avenue in the Fenway and Hyde Square in Jamaica Plain.

The rulings mean the applicants can now go to the state Cannabis Control Commission to seek a license to open.

The board continued a hearing on a third proposed shop, at 430-454 Blue Hill Ave. in Grove Hall, until March 26 to let the applicant create a floor plan and detailed written plan showing how it would handle the flow of customers.

MedMen, a California-based chain with 19 existing pot shops across the country, won approval to open what would be its first Massachusetts outlet at 120 Brookline Ave. in what one of its officials called "the beautiful downtown Fenway area."

The company showed renderings of what looked like an Apple Store done in teak, where customers would make selections from iPads in orders that would then be filled in a secure area and delivered to them.

The store would have roughly 7,500 square feet of space, of which about 4,700 square feet would consist of the sales floor. The shop's entrance would actually be on an alley off Brookline Avenue, which officials said would let it handle any possible long queues of customers.

The number of customers proved to be the only sticking point at the hearing - the company was unable to say how many customers it expected to see daily or hourly. Board members expressed concern about that given its location right down the street from Fenway Park.

Although it's based on the other side of the country - and would monitor the shop from a security command center there - MedMen officials said they are committed to hiring locally, including spending $1 million to help set up a Boston chapter of a foundation that works to recruit and train members of groups hit hard by "the failed war on drugs" to get into the marijuana business. The store will also be unionized.

Also approved yesterday: A locally owned pot shop at 401-405 Centre St. in Jamaica Plain, in the basement once occupied by the Milky Way Lounge and Lanes.

The main issue for Core Empowerment, owned by four local residents, was traffic and parking in the congested Hyde Square. The company's attorney, former City Councilor Mike Ross, said the company is looking at leasing about 12 spaces in a parking lot a couple blocks away and is working with nearby restaurants on a shared valet parking system, and with the city on parking enforcement.

Ross added that the shop's security team - overseen by former BPD Superintendent Daniel Linskey, who oversaw arrests of pot dealers when marijuana was illegal in Massachusetts - would patrol the area and that customers found parking in resident-only spaces or even in the neighboring Whole Foods parking lot - would be barred from the shop.

Two nearby residents supported the proposal, saying they expected the shop to be like a neighborhood liquor store, where most customers would be walking to the shop.

Several nearby businesses remained unconvinced, however, and sent a representative to oppose the pot shop over parking concerns. One resident asked the board to think of the children, specifically, all the children she said pass through Hyde Square and would be enticed into becoming customers.

Ross said the store would strictly enforce the state law requiring customers be at least 21.

Ross said that although the space is large enough to handle more than four times the 350 or so daily customers its backers expect, for the first month, the store would be limited to people who make online appointments, so that managers can gauge how best to handle the daily flow of customers

The board took no action on a proposal for a 3,000-square-foot pot shop at 430-454 Blue Hill Ave. in Grove Hall, telling Urban Oasis owners Kobie Evans of Roxbury and Kevin Hart of Randolph they need to come back on March 26 with printed security and customer-queuing plans.

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Comments

After the Milky Way being gone for a decade, this seems like a really boring thing to take its place. However, I'm sure Mr. Levin is laughing all the way to the bank with whatever absurd rent he locked them in at, so that's just great.

It may be that I'm just grumpy that this didn't get picked up by a deep-pocketed arts org, as it could have been made a decent Passim-ish sized performance space. It's even got a similar profile: basement space, no residential neighbors, and only commercial above it. While I get that some sound mitigation would have been needed to work with the later hours of The Haven, it's rare to find a place like this around JP these days.

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Voting closed 44

Definitely disappointing that that crook of a landlord will be getting money out of this.

And disappointing that an out of state company gets the most high profile location yet. Theres more than enough local residents trying to open shops and struggling to get a license. Why give one to them?

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Voting closed 15

We finally are able to legally buy weed, yet still there's a problem. It's finally happening in your neighborhood, but you have other plans for that building (in your head). It's as if we finally got a Parisienne style bike renting system, but all the kids bitterly complained that the colors were garish and we had to get rid of them.

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Voting closed 11

A bowling alley below a pot shop sounds like a fantasy my teenage stoner self would have come up with.

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Voting closed 13

They're going into the bowling alley space. Maybe they keep the alley for while patrons wait?

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Voting closed 9

City expresses legitimate concern about opening a store operating in a supply constrained industry in a busy part of the city where rowdy crowds of 40,000 assemble 100+ times per year, many of whom are from out of state where they don’t have our newly legal sensation.

Company offers $1 million in goodwill and unionized workers.

City drops each of its concerns and grants approval.

And to boot, the JP shop has an ex-official on the rolls to win over the city.

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Voting closed 7

I'm happy there will be a pot shop in JP, but this really is a bad location for it. There is literally zero parking around there and plenty of traffic. Not that I know of a better place for one in JP, but there probably is. Oh well.

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Voting closed 5

I don't know....maybe ppl can start walking, biking or taking the T to places? The traffic in JP on Centre is ridiculous. We can't continue on the road of "but the parking, but the cars, but but..." We no longer have the capacity and it is time to change our thinking. If you are complaining about parking you are part of the problem (this is not directed to the poster - it is a blanket statement).

I love my city but we are behind in so many ways.

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Voting closed 12

I'm especially fond (/s) of the double parking in front of the liquor store.

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Voting closed 5

Local ownership, but staying anonymous?

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Voting closed 3

Rain drop, pot shop

Security done by an ex-cop

Capital investment won't stop, stop, stop

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Voting closed 5