The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) met virtually on January 11 for a make-up December meeting, as there was not a quorum of council members to hold a meeting in December.
The Council first heard a presentation from the team at SEED, the cannabis dispensary at 401A Centre St., which requested a change in closing hours as well as the removal of language about a shared valet
SEED Chief of Staff Tomas Gonzalez, as well as CEO April Arrasate were on hand to present the proposal and address comments and questions.
Arrasate said that SEED’s current hours are 11am to 8pm but their original proposal was for 10am to 10pm, so that is what they are proposing now.
“We are trying to get in line with our competitors,” Arrasate said, adding that they believe the extra hours are needed because they have “had to turn people away on both sides.”
She also said that the shared valet service was never established, nor is it needed. There are “six dedicated parking spaces” for a maximum of 15 minutes outside the store. She said the average customer transaction time is 1.9 minutes, there are an average of 22 customers per hour, and an average of 276 customers per day. Additionally, 21 percent of purchases in the store are online pickups, and half of SEED’s customers come from Jamaica Plain.
Gonzalez said that when SEED first opened during the pandemic, the city was not allowing any shared valets, so they “couldn’t even get it off the ground.” The original idea was to have a shared valet service with the restaurants around the store.
The JPNC voted to approve both the change in hours and the removal of language.
The Council also brought up some other promises that were made by the SEED team when they were first in the approval process.
JPNC member Michael Reiskind asked about the police detail that was promised for the first month, as well as the safety and security plan. Reiskind said that the “operation seems fine” so far, and called it “excellent,” adding that he “hasn’t seen any issues” but still wanted to bring up these “series of high level promises that have faded away.”
Gonzalez said that the police detail was at the store for the first week or so, but it was difficult to find officers to fill the position, he said. Also asked about was the promise to make adjustments to the crosswalk in the area.
Arrasate said that the crosswalk was “part of the shared valet” idea, and there haven’t been enough people to warrant heavy use of the crosswalk for the store.
“It just wasn’t warranted,” she said.
Arrasate also said that the traffic and safety teams introduced during the approval process have been involved in their intended capacities, and now that the store is up and running, “everybody’s trained,” she said, and protocols are being followed.
Arrasate also said to Reiskind, “I can understand and appreciate your perspective,” but added that the team “wanted to put together a plan that had flexibility baked into it.”
She said that “I’d rather spend money” on things like local events and getting involved with the community, “rather than things we promised that no longer turned out to be necessary.”
JPNC member Gert Thorn said that “if you commit to something,” it’s “not your decision to get rid of something. You promised the community that you’d do it,” he said, speaking of the crosswalk improvements.
“It was part of an overall traffic plan,” Arrasate reiterated. Arrasate said that the SEED team would be “happy to stay in touch with the community wherever we can.”
Dave Baron of the Zoning Committee presented five different zoning matters that required a vote from the full Council:
1. At 26 Egleston St., a proposal to add a driveway and a curb cut on the right side of the existing house to create two off-street parking spaces in the rear and one parking space in the driveway entrance was approved.
2. At 23 Iffley Road, a proposal to add a driveway next to the existing three-family building was approved.
3. At 88 Rockview St., a proposal to build a sing-family house on the existing lot was approved.
4. At 265-267 Amory St., a proposal for a new four-story, nine unit residential building with nine parking spaces as well as a new three-story building with classroom and office space and a ski shop on the first floor as the headquarters and community center for Youth Enrichment Services (YES) was approved. Baron said that the proposal also includes a bus turnout for buses to pick kids up at the location and take them skiing, as this is a major program offered by YES. He also mentioned that there is some “tension between PLAN: JP/Rox and the zoning code, which says the limit for building height is 35 feet. The buildings proposed are 45 feet tall, which is in line with PLAN: JP/Rox. There are also no affordable units proposed. He said that at the Zoning Committee meeting, there were people both in support and in opposition of the project, and those in opposition were mainly from across the street from the proposal. The ‘opposition was primarily about height,” he said.
5. The proposal at 3484 Washington St., which is the new Doyle’s proposal, includes the new restaurant, as well as a total of 29 residential units in three buildings, and a 5,000 square foot market. The restaurant, the market, and 16 residential units will be located at 3483 Washington St., along with 22 parking spaces, seven residential units will be located at 60 Williams St., and six affordable units will be located at 69 Williams St. The Council also voted to approve this proposal. This project is set to go before the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) on January 18.