Marijuana company Patriot Care, which currently operates a medical marijuana dispensary on Milk St., came before the Bay Village Neighborhood Association (BVNA) Planning and Licensing Committee on Feb. 19. The Bay Village community had a lot of questions for the proponents, who are seeking approval to open a recreational/medical combo dispensary at 304 Stuart St/129-133 Columbus Ave., which is currently the site of the Mooncusser restaurant.
“We’re very proud of our operation at 21 Milk St.,” said Bob Mayerson, CEO of Patriot Care. “We were the first group that received a medical license from the city.” Patriot Care defines themselves as “an experienced operator in Boston,” and also operate marijuana entities in places like New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. “We know how to run this business,” Mayerson said.
Patriot Care has a conditional use permit at their Milk Street location, which does not allow them to add recreational use in that location, so that’s why they sought out a different location where they could include both medical and recreational. Mayerson explained that Patriot Care would occupy all four floors of the building at 304 Stuart St. They would have the ability to separate recreational, or adult use, and medical use within the building, he said.
In anticipation of questions around parking, Mayerson told the Bay Village community that there are over 4,000 parking spots within 1,000 feet of the location, and over 100 metered spots within 1.5 blocks. Someone pointed out that a lot of those spots are filled during the day with people coming to offices in the area.
“We’re near the Green Line,” Mayerson said, and said that “it’s hard to say” what the daily projected traffic would be.
Another portion of Patriot Care’s presentation revolved around security. Chief Security Advisor George Agganis said that the company’s “approach to security is to broaden that belt of security into the streets.” He said that they take care to not only protect their building, but outside of it too with a series of security cameras that are monitored by people.
“We’ve had zero, and I mean zero, complaints at Milk Street,” Agganis said. “Our guards check identification, walk perimeters, walk the streets,” he added. He said that their job is to understand the neighborhood and the facility.
BVNA member Gaye Bok was very concerned about a recreational dispensary being put in the Bay Village neighborhood, and asked Patriot Care what their plan is for controlling smoking on the streets and in pocket parks.
“We have demeanor policies,” Agganis said. He said if they see any behavior that is contrary to the law, they “have no problem” calling law enforcement, and will not serve that person again. “Our license is on the line too–we value that,” he said.
Mayerson added that as soon as there is an issue at any of their locations, they have to disclose that for any other license across the country. “We can’t have that happen,” he said. “It’s not 100 percent foolproof,” he added,” but “we do everything humanly possible on our side.”
BVNA member Sarah Herlihy asked if anyone from Patriot Care has walked the streets of Bay Village. Agganis responded by saying he has driven through the neighborhood. “It disappoints me that you have’t walked the streets of Bay Village–driving is different,” she said. “The city has done nothing for smoking marijuana in public.” She wanted to know exactly how Patriot Care would make sure people are not smoking in the neighborhood, as she believes law enforcement has not been enforcing this law.
Dennis Kunian, Vice President of Community Affairs for Patriot Care, said that he has walked the streets of Bay Village. “I know the streets,” he said. “The plan is enforcement,” he said, working with Boston Police Department A-1 Captain Fong, the sheriff’s office, and Attorney General Maura Healey. “I think that one of the things that Patriot Care does is they take a lot of this personally,” he said.
Herlihy responded by saying that she wants to see a concrete plan of how they will keep smoking on the streets should they be permitted to operate this business in the Bay Village. “Without a plan, we’ve got nothing to trust,” she said.
“Medical and adult use are not that different to people,” Mayerson said.
Agganis said that if they are able to gather intelligence on something that occurred, they will be able to act on it with presence of law enforcement. He said that their Lowell recreational dispensary will open first, with around six months “under our belt” before the Bay Village would be in operation.
Mayerson said that they are limited by state law—“we can give three percent of revenue” to the city, which can be used for things like security cameras. “I would be fully supportive of them giving some of that money to cameras,” he said.
Herlihy suggested that the Patriot Care team walk around with someone from the Planning and Licensing Committee “so there is a plan for the best shot at deterring recreational use in our neighborhood.”
She and others said that Bay Village is dark and quiet, so it’s “a really easy place to go and do something bad,” Herlihy said.
Patriot Care agreed to this idea, and Mayerson said that “Our goal is to make you as comfortable as we can make you on this issue.”
Bok stood firm: “I’m sure you’re a very reputable operator, but I don’t want a recreational dispensary that close to Bay Village,” she said.
Patriot Care did not have any official proposed hours of operation for this dispensary, but they mentioned that the Milk Street location is currently open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. “For this, we want a little longer than that,” he said, until around 7 p.m. on weekdays. He said operating hours will be shorter on the weekends, but they will need to work with BVNA and the city on the actual hours.
Mayerson said it was also “hard to say” what the traffic situation will be, as it is “easier for cars” to get around the Bay Village area than the Milk Street area, he said. He added that they plan on engaging in a traffic study.
Mayerson said they have a goal of 400-500 visits per day in this new proposed location, and Herlihy said that would add a lot of foot traffic to Bay Village. “I think the traffic study is going to be important,” she said. She said she wants to hear specific details about hours and security.
She reiterated: “I just don’t hear a plan. We typically hear much more specific plans,” she said. “Frankly, I think you’re coming to us a little early. I would like to see a fully fleshed security plan that takes into account the neighbor’s concerns.”
“We’ll do that; we’ll take a walk,” Mayerson responded. He said the reason they didn’t come with a more detailed security plan is “because it’s never been an issue” for them before.
Agannis said he has a security plan for the building, but “would never know the particular small things that you’re concerned about.” He said he can approach that very easily and is willing to take a walk with the neighbors to learn more about their concerns. He also said he could show them the layout of where they plan to have cameras, which will be “centrally located about the facility and the immediate perimeter,” he said. “I’m happy to hear of your concerns.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to mitigate as much of your concerns as we can within reason,” Agannis added.
Herlihy said she still doesn’t hear an answer on the parking issue, and believes that people will double-park to go inside the dispensary. She told the team that they might want to explore a 15 minute retail parking plan with resident parking at night, as this would be a good tradeoff for the neighborhood.
She also wrapped up the presentation by saying that she will connect with the Patriot Care team to schedule a walkthrough as early as next week, so the the team can learn more about the neighborhood and its specific concerns.
A community outreach meeting regarding this project is scheduled for March 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Boston Park Plaza.
SEEKING FULL LIQUOR LIC.
Mooncusser Fish House owner Ian Calhoun also appeared before the BVNA Planning/Licensing Committee on Tuesday night because he is seeking a full liquor license for his restaurant on Stuart St. He currently has a beer and wine license, but would like to expand his offerings to liquor as well, as he said he’s had patrons sit down and then get up and leave when they find out liquor is not offered.
Mooncusser has been in the Bay Village since 2017. “So far we’ve been really pleased, we like the area,” Calhoun said. Should Patriot Care be granted the license to operate in the 304 Stuart St. building, Mooncusser has plans to move into the closed Flash’s bar space, where Calhoun said that everything would remain the same as it is in the current space.
He is seeking approval for the new liquor license in his current spot, and should he be given permission from the BVNA, he will go to the city as soon as possible after that. He said he doesn’t mind going through the process again should he have to move.
“We don’t want places to become straight bars,” Herlihy said. She said they have to consider the bar-seat to dining-seat ratio, though this has become less of a concern as people are increasingly ordering whole meals at the bar. She said she believes that Calhoun is an experienced operator.
“I don’t want it to be a bar,” Calhoun said. He said that right now, they stop food at 10:00, but the serving of drinks and food would be in concert, and they’d be happy to stop before 2:00 as the license states.
“We do like to and need to see the plans before we vote,” Herlihy told Calhoun, adding that they want to have an agreement with him and if they receive enough information, they will be able to vote at the next Executive Committee meeting, which is set for March 4.