Why we oppose a retail marijuana store at 1032 Beacon St

The 1032 Beacon Site Does Not Meet the Buffer Zone Requirements of the CCC Regulations

The 1032 Beacon Location violates the declared 500 foot "BufferZone" prohibition under the CCC Regulations (theTown having adopted the same 500 foot distance buffer in Sec. 4.13 of  the Zoning Bylaws).  The 1032 Beacon Location is within 498.1 feet of the McKinley Middle School.  This violation precludes the Select Board from issuing Ascend's requested Marijuana Establishment license at the 1032 Beacon Location.  This is not a discretionary matter for this Board — it is a jurisdictional preclusion prohibiting operation within the stated buffer zone.

The site does not meet the size limitations of the Zoning Bylaw

The 1032 Beacon Location has 6,200 Sq/ft of "gross floor area".  This is larger than the Zoning Bylaw allows.

Brookline Zoning Bylaw Section 4.13(5)(E)(6):

" Store Size Limitations for Social   Consumption Marijuana Retailers issued a primary uselicense and Storefront Marijuana Retailers shall:

  • a. Not exceed a total gross floor area of 5,000 square feet per establishment.
  • b. Not exceed a gross floor area of 3,500 square feet and not more than 5,000 square feet gross floor area per establishment if any portion of the establishment is located at street level."

The gross floor area of 1032 Beacon Street is 6,200 feet.

High Density neighborhood

The Saint Mary's Neighborhood is densely residential that just happens to have a tiny, one block stretch of businesses.  We have a very large number of apartment buildings and condominiums, some single family homes, and enough residential density to support the 13 schools and youth institutions that are in our near our neighborhood.  We have a very small retail strip along Beacon Street, with no dedicated parking for any of our businesses.  Our diverse mix of housing stock holds a wide range of residents including families, young professionals, international visitors and individuals in recovery.  This is a unique blend of people sharing a common experience on a small, one block stretch of businesses in Saint Mary’s that would forever be damaged should the Ascend store be opened.

Worst Possible Location

After our careful analysis and continuous discussion with our concerned neighbors, we think that Saint Mary’s is the worst possible location for a marijuana store or dispensary at this time. Our key concerns with respect to the location are:

  • This is the wrong neighborhood, with 13 schools, pre-k programs, and day care within about 1,000 feet of 1032 Beacon Street;
  • The overwhelming demand from 60,000 college students, 81 Red Sox home games and year round concerts at Fenway will overwhelm our small, local, retail strip of stores.
  • There is no dedicated parking for the proposed store and existing public parking spots are insufficient to support existing retail demand.
  • An enormous group of thoughtful, caring people in this neighborhood have spent countless hours carefully looking at the impact and appropriateness of a potential retail marijuana store here in this block of Beacon Street.  Their conclusion, arrived at with hard work, questioning, and a shared process, is that this site is wrong, this site in inappropriate.  They did not reach this conclusion lightly or in haste.  And, they overwhelmingly reached this conclusion, to an unprecedented level of near-unanimity and scale.

There is Overwhelming Opposition  

More than 965 concerned residents and friends of St. Mary's have signed letters of opposition in the two weeks we since started getting letters. 

More than 300 people attended two opposition rallies and the community meetings hosted by Ascend.  No other site has received this level of opposition.

Of the 180 sites in Massachusetts, none have come close to having the level of opposition that the St. Mary's site is experiencing.  None of the other four sites in Brookline have received opposition.  The St. Mary's site is the only site in Brookline that is being opposed.

Ascend Is Suppressing Information

We are talking openly, putting written information into the public domain, providing deeply-researched facts and figures and comparisons in our letters, talks, and materials, which is posted on our web site.  In contrast, other than those documents legally required, it does not appear that Ascend is willing in the least to put factual, written information out into the public domain.  Certainly, they walked back at the October 30 meeting an early commitment to provide information to us. 

How can we as the neighbors, can you as the town leaders, and how can the other town’s boards evaluate any proposal from Ascend, with such an imbalance of information?  How can major policy, zoning and community agreements be made with such a lack of information and the appearance of a black-box process of private conversations and hidden information? We strongly believe that moving forward with a Host Community Agreement without full disclosure from Ascend, analysis and community involvement would be a mistake.

This is a Big Experiment

This industry is new to Massachusetts, and only a few years old anywhere.  It doesn’t seem at all sensible to jump right out of the gate at the beginning putting relatively big stores in dense residential neighborhoods, at least not if that neighborhood doesn’t want the facility. We would ask that the town experiment carefully, cautiously, with initial zoning of smaller shops in contained, non-residential areas, even if it means a slower rollout or more second-floor shops.  As a dedicated volunteer group, we have looked – as I think you all know – very closely at our own neighborhood and the proposed Beacon Street site within it.