Dealing with Details: License Commission Works out the Logistics of Marijuana Shops

Dealing with Details: License Commission Works out the Logistics of Marijuana Shops

The Licensing Commission has continued a hearing on special additional rules for marijuana establishments to its March meeting.

The commission opened the public hearing at its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 17.

While the hearing did not generate much controversy, commissioners did agree that they wanted more time to consider several issues, including language limiting where retail marijuana shops can be concentrated, and the amount the city will charge for application fees.

“I’d like to see more research and see what nearby cities have done and what their challenges are,” said commission member Roseann Bongiovanni.

Currently, there are three applications in the works for retail marijuana shops in the city. The city will allow a maximum of four retail licenses.

According to the proposed regulation, the Licensing Commission will not issue a license to anyone who has violated Licensing Commission rules and regulations in the past five years. All licenses are subject to zoning approval and state Cannabis Control Commission approval.

The operating hours for retail shops will be limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and all signage will have to be approved by the city, according to City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher.

“We are trying to be a little more restrictive now so we don’t have to clean up after the fact, like with liquor licenses,” said Fisher.

The section of the proposed regulations that garnered the most discussion among commission members was one which would limit the concentration of where retail marijuana shops can be located.

Fisher noted that the language included in the draft regulations, limiting retail shops to one per voting district and not within 500 feet of another retail marijuana store, was not included by the legal department. She said it was included because it was a request made during a past public hearing on marijuana regulations.

“We already have a very small area in Chelsea, and retail shops are already restricted to three zones and can’t be within 500 feet of schools,” said Fisher. “It is already quite restrictive of where you can put a facility.”

The city will allow marijuana establishments in the Industrial, Shopping Center, and Business Highway zone.

Licensing Commission Chairman Mark Rossi said he’d like the commission to have more discretion over where facilities can be located.

“Our job is to factor in the input from the community and the licensees,” said Rossi.

Much like it does with liquor licenses, Rossi said the Licensing Commission will be getting input from the community, police and fire departments, and other city officials when it comes to making a final determination on issuing a marijuana license.

“This committee is uniquely situated to make that determination,” he said.

Commission member James Guido said he would like more information on limiting concentration in voting districts before making a final decision on the proposed regulation.

Rossi also said he had questions about the $5,000 application and annual renewal fee for marijuana establishments, stating he would like to see a higher number.

Rossi said the application fees and concentration of locations will be discussed when the hearing is continued at its March 7 meeting.

“This is a big issue that affects everyone,” he said.

•In other business, the Licensing Commission adjusted its penalty for Rincon Latinos restaurant at 373 Washington Ave. In December, the commission suspended the restaurant’s liquor license for eight days spread over four weekends for repeated instances of exceeding its capacity.

Last week, the commission agreed to suspend the license for two weekends in January, as well as for a five-day stretch during the week when a new handicap bathroom will be installed by the restaurant owners.

The new bathroom will allow Rincons Latinos to increase its capacity from 17 to 28 people, according to John Dodge, the attorney representing the owners.

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City Moves to Dismiss Case to Overturn ‘nip’ Ban

City Moves to Dismiss Case to Overturn ‘nip’ Ban

The City of Chelsea has filed a brief with the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) to dismiss the case brought by nine liquor licensees to overturn the ban on small liquor bottles (50 mL), known as nips.

On Dec. 8, in a hearing at the ABCC, the licensees argued their cause.

However, the City has now filed a motion indicating that the ABCC does not have jurisdiction to decide on the challenge of the ban. The case is somewhat groundbreaking because Chelsea is the first municipality to attempt to ban all nip sales. While few communities find nips a plus due to increased litter and public drinking, the sales are strong pieces of business for many liquor stores – including Chelsea. A number of communities and liquor retailers are watching the case very closely to see what they will do in their communities as well.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said the key will be whether there is jurisdiction.

“They will decide on that preliminary issue soon,” he said. “If they have jurisdiction, they’ll decide on the issue. If they decide they don’t have jurisdiction, then the ban stands.”

The motion by the City indicates, “The ABCC is not a super-regulatory authority for review of regulations issued by local licensing authorities, and therefore is not the proper forum for Appellants to challenge the regulations.”

One of the other objections in the motion are that the licensees did not appeal the decision until many months later, in September, while the ban started in May.

Chelsea moved last year to institute the ban on nips, and it has been in effect for many months. A second attempt to ban 100 mL bottles of liquor was tabled until the case was heard and decided.

Ambrosino said he has noticed some definite improvements since the ban went into effect.

“I do notice a little difference,” he said. “I think the Downtown Task Force police officers will tell you the same. I think it’s been effective. It’s one piece of many efforts we have in place. There’s a lot of things that contribute to the absence of that problem, including all the social services and resources going on as well.”

The licensees are expected to file their brief in response to the City’s motion to dismiss within the week.

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Planning Bd Recommends Zoning Changes,Approves Parkway Peruvian Restaurant

Planning Bd Recommends Zoning Changes,Approves Parkway Peruvian Restaurant

The Planning Board recommended approval to two changes to the City’s zoning ordinances on Tuesday night.

The first change affects the Naval Hospital Residential and Commercial Districts, also known as the Admiral’s Hill area of the city.

In the 1980s, the city slackened many building and zoning regulations for the district in an effort to encourage development, according to Lad Dell, the city’s planning and land use administrator.

“People were able to develop without much regulation at all,” said Dell.

A moratorium on building in the district was recently extended to the end of the year by City Manager Thomas Ambrosino as the City worked on new regulations for the district.

The new ordinance recommended by the Planning Board for approval by the City Council allows for four- to six-unit buildings to be constructed by right, with a special permit required for any construction above six units.

The ordinance brought before the Planning Board allowed for building heights of 2 ½ stories and 35 feet. The board amended the ordinance to allow for a building height of 40 feet.

“I would suggest that we add the half a story and a little height to allow for garages,” said John DePriest, the City’s planning director.

City Councillor Roy Avellaneda said the amendment was in line with Council subcommittee discussions on the ordinance to increase building height to make it easier to build garages.

The residents who spoke during the public hearing on the zoning amendment were supportive.

“It looks like this is an effort to protect the character of the neighborhood and not overload our streets,” said Christine Shields.

The second zoning amendment would allow for residential units on the first floor of buildings in the Retail Business District by special permit, as long as those units are not on Broadway.

Two years ago, a zoning amendment banned residential units on the first floor in the Broadway corridor. If the new amendment is approved by the City Council, residential units will still be banned on the first floor on Broadway itself, but could be allowed under special permit on other streets near Broadway in the zoning district.

  • In other Planning Board business, the developers of the massive 1 Forbes Street project withdrew their plans for the project.

But rather than a massive blow to development in the City, it was a procedural move that gives developers more time to fully present the project to a full Planning Board, according to Paul Feldman, who is representing the developer for the 630-unit residential and office building project.

“The public hearing on this was opened on Sept. 22, and at that time, there were a couple of vacancies on the board and a member who was not present,” said Feldman. “With a nine member board, to get site approval, we need six votes.”

Feldman said developers are withdrawing the site plan, but immediately refiling it to start the clock over on the hearing process. He said he expects the project to be back before the Planning Board at its Dec. 18 meeting.

“We would like the participation of all nine members, or all that can attend,” said Feldman.

  • Tuesday night, the board also approved a special permit for a 16-seat Peruvian bistro-type restaurant at the site of a former liquor store on 22 Adams St.

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Traffic Commission Approves Two-Way Broadway, Other Changes Downtown

Traffic Commission Approves Two-Way Broadway, Other Changes Downtown

The Chelsea Traffic Commission voted 4-1 on Tuesday night to recommend that the Broadway business corridor be changed from a one-way, to a two-way street – the culmination of more than a year of planning.

Carolyn Vega was the lone vote on the Commission against the two-way plan. She wasn’t opposed to the overall plan, but desired to recommend a six-month trial period.

The remaining Commissioners preferred to simply recommend the two-way plan.

The plan will now go to the City Council for a final vote at the Sept. 10 meeting, though it could be put off until the Sept. 24 meeting.

Many people were for it and many were against the plan, but in the end City Manager Tom Ambrosino said that if it didn’t work out, it would easily be able to be changed back to a one-way.

Business owner Rick Gordon said he would prefer a one-way configuration because it would be more inviting for businesses.

Fire Chief Leonard Albanese said he believed in the two-way configuration and thought it would lead to a much safer pedestrian and driving experience. He also said he believed it would enhance the Fire Department’s operations.

Councillor Roy Avellaneda said he didn’t see the need for a two-way and didn’t believe it would be safer. He asked for data to show whether or not people are being hit by cars.

Resident Bruck Black said it would be a shame to study the issue for two years with an award-winning consultant team, and then not make the changes they recommend.

Consultant Kevin Dandrade, of TEC, said they believed Chelsea could successfully make the change.

The Traffic Commission also recommended sweeping circulation changes to Fay Square, Chelsea Square, Bellingham Square and the City Hall front area – where Broadway will also become a two-way street.

The changes also include new smart traffic lights which will be at all Broadway intersections and will work via Wi-Fi to help control and time the traffic lights in real time.

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Climate Action Business Association Canvassing Chelsea

Climate Action Business Association Canvassing Chelsea

Our Main Streets, mom and pops and storefronts are in many cases the first line of defense and first resource for when a storm hits.

This summer, advocates from the Climate Action Business Association (CABA) are coming to Chelsea to equip small businesses with the tools necessary to be resilient and protected in the face of extreme weather.

The Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS) campaign, is an ongoing project that aims to inform community leaders and small businesses about the urgency of climate change and the need to incorporate climate resilient practices.

The BARS 2016 campaign reached over 500 businesses in Massachusetts, causing the campaign to gain national recognition and our Executive Director Michael Green to receive the White House Champions of Change Award for Climate Equity. This year, we have taken a more tailored approach by creating specific resilience guides for each one of our targeted communities, including city-specific information and resources.

We have worked closely with the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and the community-based organization, GreenRoots, based in Chelsea to create useful, informative, and low-cost steps that small businesses can take to improve their preparedness in the face of climate change. During the week of July 16, be sure to keep an eye out for CABA as we conduct our outreach campaign among the small business community in Chelsea or contact us before then to schedule an interview with us and become part of the BARS campaign.

If you would like more information, contact Kristin Kelleher at kristin.kelleher@cabaus.org or call (617) 863 7665.

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City’s Façade and Signage Program to Kick Off on July 12

City’s Façade and Signage Program to Kick Off on July 12

The City of Chelsea will begin a downtown façade and signage improvement program in a kick-off meeting on July 12.

Business and property owners in the downtown, as well as other interested parties, are invited to this meeting to learn about the rollout of the program and to meet Nathalia Hermida.

Hermida will be available throughout the summer to provide free design services for signage and façade improvements of downtown properties. During this meeting, Hermida will detail the design process, what assistance she’ll be able to provide and how to engage her services.

Along with responding to inquiries solicited through this meeting, Hermida will also be approaching specific identified properties. Those interested in the program who cannot attend this meeting should contact Mimi Graney, Downtown Coordinator at mgraney@chelseama.gov.

Design consultation with Hermida will be available both in English and in Spanish.

The City of Chelsea Façade and Signage Program meeting will take place on Thursday, July 12, at 8:30 a.m. at Chelsea City Hall, third-floor Committee Room.

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On Hold:‘Real Discussion’ Unfolds Regarding Small Liquor Bottles, Special Meeting Aug 28

On Hold:‘Real Discussion’ Unfolds Regarding Small Liquor Bottles, Special Meeting Aug 28

The Chelsea Licensing Commission has put on hold the ban of small liquor bottles (100 ml) after a hearing Tuesday night where numerous package store owners from the City came forward to protest the change.

The hearing came on the heels of the ban of “nip” bottles last month, with Chelsea being the first municipality to ban the sale of the one-shot bottles of liquor. That was to be followed up with the potential ban of small liquor bottles too. However, Chair Mark Rossi said the strong turnout from the liquor licensees in the City caused the Board to pause.

“They told us this would essentially put them out of business,” said Rossi. “The sales of small liquor bottles have been up since the ban on nips and the liquor stores were supplementing the lost income from nips with the 100 ml bottles. The positive on this is there was actually a dialog. This is the first time that has happened. Chelsea is the first municipality that has pub in a ban on nips. Based on that, it showed the community is serious about this issues. All parties considered this a problem.”

He said about half of the 16 package store license holders were at the meeting, which lasted more than two hours.

The result is the ban has been put on hold, but a special meeting has been called for Aug. 28 and a voluntary ban has been called for.

“We are calling a special meeting to address this and pick up where we left off,” Rossi said. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this.”

He said the liquor license holders were asked as a show of good faith to meet with the Police Department and voluntarily ban 100 ml bottles (particularly McCormack’s and Ruble) within 30 days. While the License Commission rarely meets in the summer, Rossi said they would call the special meeting for an update, with the hope being the ban can work informally.

Police Chief Brian Kyes said he is still for the ban, but was encouraged by the willingness of the liquor license holders during the meeting.

“Although the Chelsea Police strongly encourages the commission to proceed with the ban as proposed, I am encouraged that these licensed businesses are engaged in dialogue with the commission, the community and understanding their role in this serious issue,” he said. “Moving forward, we will continue to focus enforcement on any business that violates City licensing rules and state law, especially those that have such an adverse effect on the community.”

But not all was lost in the matter, which is an issue pushed by residents and several city councilors, including Councilor Roy Avellaneda.

Rossi said it was impressed on the liquor license holders that they need to be more connected to the community. He said it was interesting to note that none of them were as involved as they thought they were – particularly in things like the Chamber of Commerce or the local non-profits.

“The idea is we’re not looking to push anyone out of business, but to address a systemic, decades-old problem everyone agrees exists in Chelsea,” he said. “This is a positive step forward to address that issue…It’s important liquor store owners realize they are members of the community and aware of their actions on others. No one wants to go to the hair salon next to a liquor store where they have to step over the urine-soaked body of a perons passed out in the doorway.”

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On the Books:Council Votes to Limit Recreational Marijuana with Zoning Ordinance

On the Books:Council Votes to Limit Recreational Marijuana with Zoning Ordinance

The City Council voted in favor of a proposal put forward by City Manager Tom Ambrosino to limit the siting of recreational marijuana retail stores and cultivation facilities.

The vote came on an 8-2 majority after an amendment by Councillor Roy Avellaneda failed to get the eight votes needed for passage. Avellaneda and Councillor Calvin Brown voted against the City Manager’s proposal. Councillor Luis Tejada was absent from the meeting.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they have limited zoning areas for retail establishments to the Industrial Zone and the Highway Business zone. Marijuana cultivation and lab facilities would be limited to the Industrial Zone only.

The state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has issued regulations regarding the numbers of facilities allowed in each municipality and Chelsea could have up to four retail licensees. The CCC will begin accepting application on April 2 and will potentially begin issuing them on July 1 – though the July 1 date is still very much in the air at the state level right now.

Ambrosino said it was imperative for the City to get something on the books now to limit the locations for these establishments.

“I have proposed an ordinance to try to accommodate this new industry in a way I think is reasonable,” he said. “You do need to pass some ordinance to regulate this new industry to ensure the entire city isn’t open to establishments in this new industry.”

There was a great deal of discussion, though, before the vote was logged to pass Ambrosino’s proposal.

Avellaneda had an amendment that would have eliminated the Industrial Zones as an area for retail, and would have included the Shopping Center district instead – which is in places like the Mystic Mall/DeMoula’s and the Parkway Plaza.

He said siting cultivation facilities in the Industrial Zone is a no-brainer, but he said retail of any kind, even marijuana, doesn’t belong in an industrial area.

“This will be a storefront,” he said. “You don’t picture this in the middle of some warehouse where there are no stairs and a loading dock and lifts for pallets in front. When you think about the retail, we think of this, we should think of it like a jewelry store…You have no public transportation in the Industrial Zone. You’re not taking the bus down Marginal Street or Eastern Avenue…This proposal is drawn up by individuals thinking about this like it was 20 years ago and not today.”

Avellaneda had some measured support for his amendment, but it did eventually fail, getting only six of the eight votes needed.

Those voting for his amendment included Councillors Enio Lopez, Yamir Rodriguez, Bob Bishop, Giovanni Recupero, and Judith Garcia. Those voting against it were Councillors Damali Vidot, Calvin Brown, Leo Robinson, and Joe Perlatonda.

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Peabody Properties’ Service Manager Dusanka Caus Recipient of NEAHMA Annual Industry Award

Peabody Properties’ Service Manager Dusanka Caus Recipient of NEAHMA Annual Industry Award

Full-service real estate and property management firm Peabody Properties (http://www.peabodyproperties.com) is proud to announce that Dusanka Caus of Chelsea, Massachusetts, has been recognized for excellence by the New England Affordable Housing Management Association (NEAHMA).

Caus, Peabody Properties’ Service Manager, was awarded Maintenance Professional of the Year at the recent NEAHMA Annual Industry Awards reception, held in conjunction with the organization’s Annual Conference & Trade Show.  The honor is given annually to a NEAHMA member affordable housing professional in recognition of their contribution to the affordable housing industry.  In addition, the award recognizes the difference the recipient has made in residents’ lives, the demonstrated skills needed to operate a well-run property, and the ability to work well with industry partners and residents living in the community.

“Dusanka is an extraordinary member of our team and well-deserving of this prestigious award from NEAHMA,” said Scott Ployer, Vice President of Peabody Properties, Inc.  “The entire Peabody Properties community extends congratulations to Dusanka.”

About Peabody Properties, Inc.

Peabody Properties is a full-service real-estate firm which manages more than 12,000 units of housing, primarily in New England. The award-winning, privately held corporation and Accredited Management Organization (AMO) was incorporated in 1976 and is under the direction of Karen Fish-Will and Melissa Fish-Crane.  In 1995, Peabody Properties recognized its long-term commitment to Resident Services as a unique area of expertise within the field of property management and established a new, specialty sector.  Peabody Resident Services, Inc. is dedicated solely to the development of support services and programs for residents of affordable housing.  Peabody Properties is designated as a Woman Business Enterprise (WBE), is certified by the Massachusetts State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance (SOMWBA) and was recently ranked in the top 60 on the 2017 National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) Affordable 100 List, as well as a 2017 Top Place to Work by the Boston Globe.  Peabody Properties maintains headquarters at 536 Granite Street, Braintree, MA 02184. The firm also has offices in New Jersey and Florida. For additional information please visit http://www.peabodyproperties.com.

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Chelsea Chamber to Participate in Small Business Saturday Nov 25

Chelsea Chamber to Participate in Small Business Saturday Nov 25

This is the season to Shop Small®! On main streets across America, small businesses are getting ready to welcome customers on Small Business Saturday, celebrated this year on November 25 across the country and on Broadway Chelsea.

Results from the 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released this month by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express, show six in 10 (61%) U.S. consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday going into the day, and of those, 82% plan to shop at a small, independently-owned retailer or dine at a small, independently-owned restaurant on the day.

Created by American Express in 2010 as a way to help small businesses get more customers, Small Business Saturday is held annually on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Now entering its eighth year, the day is embraced by independent merchants of all kinds—from traditional brick and mortar retailers to service providers to e-commerce businesses. And as consumer shopping habits continue to evolve, they are prioritizing small businesses – even those online: the report found that 59% of consumers said they are likely to seek out a small, independently-owned retailer when shopping online on Small Business Saturday.

“Small Business Saturday provides people an opportunity to discover and celebrate the variety of small businesses that make their communities thrive,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, Executive Vice President, Global Advertising & Brand Management at American Express. “Beyond visiting their favorite go-to spots, shoppers say Small Business Saturday inspires them to visit places they have not been to before and would not have otherwise tried.”

Consumers Will Make Small Businesses a Big Part of Holiday Shopping Plans

Among those who are aware and who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday this year, 65% say the main reason they will support local, independently-owned retailers and restaurants is because they value the contributions small businesses make to their community.

The 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey found:

As much as 80% of all consumers surveyed say at least some of their holiday shopping will be done at small, independently-owned retailers or restaurants;

Three-quarters (75%) of all consumers surveyed are planning on going to one or more small businesses as part of their holiday shopping;

90% of all consumers surveyed agree it is important for them to support small, independently-owned restaurants and bars;

Of consumers who are aware of Small Business Saturday, 89% agree that the day encourages them to Shop Small all year long, not just during the holiday season;

For those who are aware and who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday, 44% plan to spend more this year compared to last year.

“Supporting small businesses is critical to the health and livelihood of our national economy and local communities,” said NFIB CEO and President Juanita Duggan. “We are proud to partner with American Express to bring attention to the importance of small business and look forward to another successful Small Business Saturday.”

Grassroots Support Boosted by Neighborhood Champions and the Small Business Saturday Coalition

Local support for Small Business Saturday is largely driven by Neighborhood Champions: small businesses, business associations, local Chambers of Commerce and other community organizers who help energize their neighborhoods on the day. To date, more than 7,200 Neighborhood Champions have signed up to plan activities and events to draw shoppers to small businesses across the U.S., leading up to and on Small Business Saturday. Click  here to find Neighborhood Champions near you. Small business owners can also find event inspiration and create customizable Small Business Saturday marketing materials to rally their communities at   ShopSmall.com.

Another important group that drives participation on the day is the Small Business Saturday Coalition. Led by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), the Small Business Saturday Coalition was created in 2011 to help amplify the Shop Small message. The Coalition is comprised of national, state and local associations that help coordinate Small Business Saturday activities with merchants, consumers, small business owners and public officials in every state across the country.

Show Love for Your Favorite Places on Social Media

Consumers have made it a tradition each year to share their love for Small Business Saturday on social media, and all are encouraged to show off their favorite independently-owned businesses by using #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This year, American Express is also encouraging consumers to RSVP on Facebook   here for reminders about the nationwide celebration to Shop Small this November 25th.

To discover and share the impact shopping small has in your state, visit:  www.shopsmall.com/mystate.

Corporate Supporters Rally Communities to Support Small Business

To help drive excitement for Small Business Saturday, American Express has enlisted the support of many companies that are serving as Corporate Supporters. Together these companies reach millions of small businesses and consumers and are key players in the e-commerce, retail, telecom, media, hospitality, transportation, and professional services industries.   FedEx is among the medium and large-sized companies that will be participating. The company is shipping Shop Small merchandise kits to Neighborhood Champions and small businesses across the country free of charge, and printing select materials in the kit at no cost through FedEx Office.  Grubhub is helping restaurants stand out, deliver memorable experiences and optimize online offerings on Small Business Saturday. Additionally,  Ace Hardware,  FTD,  Square and  Liberty Mutual Insurance are lending their support to the day.

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