Pilot Block Fires Back on Compassionate Organics with Official Opposition Letter

In the wake of a controversial vote by the Ellis South End Neighborhood Association on the Compassionate Organics medical marijuana proposal, host association Pilot Block has now fired back with a pointed letter of opposition to the project based on numerous reasons, including the change in zoning use.

The letter was written by Pilot Block (PBNA) leadership – Interim President Jim Batty and Interim Secretary Nicola Truppin – on Feb. 6 and sent to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

“As the ‘host neighborhood’ for 633 Tremont St., the PBNA believes that the opinions of our residents concerning the appropriateness of variances for locations within the neighborhood association boundaries carry a certain weight that should not be equally accorded to other neighborhood associations abutting the PBNA,” read the letter. “The PBNA asks that the Zoning Board of Appeals take strong notice that residents in the Pilot Block neighborhood are extremely concerned about the granting of a variance to the current Forbidden Use zoning for 633 Tremont St. Indeed, a majority of PBNA residents stand in strong opposition to the granting of such a variance.”

The letter came in response to a Jan. 22 vote by the Board of the Ellis in a closed session where they agreed to write a letter of non-opposition for Compassionate Organics and work on a Good Neighbor agreement with them. It shocked Pilot Block and other Associations, as they had all seemingly been working together to create a document that would be used uniformly to evaluate any marijuana dispensary proposal. Ellis had been working in concert on that document, but apparently decided to step outside of that agreement with their vote.

Leadership of the Ellis last week told the Sun they stand by the vote, and that associations can’t always have such unity. They said there was an overwhelming quorum that participated in the vote. The results were not disclosed.

That was followed up by a highly publicized and published petition signed by members of the Ellis that said they support the proposal and that it fell in line with the neighborhood vote on legalization of marijuana.

The letter from Pilot Block indicated that they are the host association, which in some circles is under dispute, and they have evaluated the Compassionate Organics proposal since December 2017. They have hosted four forums for residents and maintained reams of information on the proposal at the Pilot Block website.

On June 13, however, Pilot Block held a meeting with about 100 residents in attendance, which resulted in a vote.

“The turnout for the June meeting was very large – close to 100 people,” read the letter. “Only verified residents of the PBNA were allowed to vote via confidential ballot. There were 71 PBNA residents that voted – 58 in opposition to, and 13 in support of, the proposed use variance at 633 Tremont St. 

“The PBNA continues to receive emails from residents in the Pilot Block Neighborhood expressing opposition; we have received no letters in support. To date, we have received 45 letters/emails in opposition,” continued the letter.

The letter also described a petition now circulating on West Brookline and West Canton Streets with PBNA and Ellis members signing against the proposal. It has 121 signatures at the moment.

“Based on the above, and for the reasons outlined below, the PBNA does not support the granting of a variance to the Forbidden Use zoning for 633 Tremont St.,” read the letter.

Compassionate Organics does not yet have a date at the ZBA for its variance hearing, but dates for it and its competitor, Liberty Organics, are expected for the spring.

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