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JP Neighborhood Council wants Whole Foods to do more than just open up shop

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council voted tonight to try to begin negotiations with Whole Foods on a "community benefits agreement" that would set specific financial and neighborhood goals for the chain to meet as it opens its store in Hyde Square.

The council said it will use as its basis for bargaining a 68-page report that sets out a range of requests for Whole Foods, from hiring to types of foods it should carry to funding a program to subsidize purchases at other markets in the neighborhood.

Council members did not say whether they would attempt to include all the report's recommendations in the agreement or a subset. However, they also voted to meet with neighborhood groups, such as the Hyde Square Task Force and both pro- and anti-Whole Foods groups for possible recommendations. The group hopes to meet with somebody from Whole Foods in August, when the chain's regional president is back from vacation.

Council member Michael Reiskind says it's unlikely the council can get as many conditions - or as much money - as it did from Stop & Shop when it moved to Jackson Square, in large part because Whole Foods is signing a lease with a private landlord for an existing building, rather than taking over a city-owned parcel.

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Comments

and what exactly does JPNC plan to offer Whole Foods in exchange for the things it is asking from them?

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I do not think it means what you think it means.

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More proof, I guess, that I need a copy desk. They said they'd use the report as the starting point for their negotiations with Whole Foods. I've changed the wording in the post; my apologies.

As for their chips, well, if Whole Foods ever needs a license from the city (to sell prepared foods or open a little cafe area, say), they'd have to go before the licensing board, which would take no action until after the chain met with the neighborhood council.

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Because I don't cover city meetings to the extent that you do Adam, I may be way off but, if WF doesn't require a special permit then if they follow the law to a "T", then they are entitled to necessary permits and will win any challenge in court.

Now, if a special permit is required then the various boards can run train on WF and demand weekly BJs if they want.

This problem is what drives me apeshit in land use planning, when a NIMBY organization comes and they follow the rules and fools try to run them out. If people don't like the laws then change them to say no chain stores are allowed in JP or a special permit is required. That would be legal since since it would be consistently applied to all applicants.

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You're right - even if it wanted to, the council could not stop the transformation of the old Hi-Lo into a Whole Foods, because it involves no zoning issues. However, a common victualer's license (for, say, a cafe), would require a hearing before the Boston Licensing Board, which requires a demonstration of "public need" for the license and a meeting with the local civic association(s). The board is then free to disregard the association's advice (as it does all the time in Allston).

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I don't see the zoning board denying any license to WF at this point based on a recommendation by the JPNC. The mayor has come out for the project, the granting would seem fairly routine and most importantly, the JPNC blew all their capital in the way they handled this.

I don't think that a politically moderate body would look at any recommendation from the JPNC with an open mind. When you essentially ask one supermarket to start a shadow food stamps program, I think you generally look unreasonable, if not crazy.

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It would be a possible issue for other permits, such as serving prepared foods or, God forbid, selling wine (do any Whole Foods even sell wine?).

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Yes, at least (and probably only) 3 in MA do: Dedham, Cambridge (River St.), and Amherst/Hadley.

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by state law.

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There is a zoning issue here because it is a guarantee that this Whole Foods will have prepared foods.

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You can't change the rules to not allow chain stores -- doesn't hold up in court.

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More proof, I guess, that I need a copy desk.

As if we didn't have enough proof already.

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You're boring.

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A copy desk would be responsible for misspellings and word choice. You're just proof that he needs a paid moderator to keep more trolls out. But I can see how you might be easily confused.

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You get what you pay for.

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The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council is laughable. A sixty-eight page report? Scary!!! In actuality, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council has no teeth. They should be, and probably will be, plainly dismissed by Whole Foods. Whole Foods can and should decide to negotiate with a sane group of people.

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Well, they need to negotiate rent with the landlord. They need to make their customers happy.

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Just like Walmart, right?

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If WalMart conforms to zoning and doesn't expect tax breaks, like Whole Foods, the community group posturing is irrelevant in either case.

The problem with WalMart is that they usually expect preferential treatment and variances when zoning doesn't match their megavision, not to mention huge tax breaks, to destroy community businesses and swell the social service rolls with their employees (they had a policy at one point where they would tell people to go to the county or the state for benefits).

That's the purpose of zoning - you decide BEFORE development what you want there and CHANGE THE ZONING to reflect that. Of course, zoning can never make a stipulation that a business be minority owned or cater to a specific clientele ... which these JP losers don't seem to grock.

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So, that's bad, but the Whole Foods whole "anti-union, greenwashing, shutting down local organic markets just like Wal-Mart" thing is OK?

Help me out here. I'm a little confused as to where it starts being OK for a huge retailer to be a total bastard.

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However, so long as their practices are legal, zoning doesn't get to say "only people we like get to rent here". It doesn't and can't work that way.

You get to vote at the cash register. You also get to elect representatives (and in some states vote on ballot initiatives) who might make laws preventing the offending business practices.

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The problem with WalMart is that they usually expect preferential treatment and variances when zoning doesn't match their megavision, not to mention huge tax breaks, ....

Reagarding the Walmart tax breaks and zoning changes, your anger seems a bit misdirected. Who gives them these breaks? The local government. All Walmart does is ask for these breaks, and I don't blame them. Walmart has no power over the locals, and if they're given these breaks, go yell the people that gave them to Walmart.

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They "just ask"...they use $200,000+ in lobbyists who wine'n'dine the local government officials who have never had a taste of what it's like to be "treated" like a national politician.

"Just ask" for tax breaks, etc? That, sir, is laughable.

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If they succumb, that's their problem. It's not that hard to say "no".

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WalMart makes it hard to say no. There are a number of documentaries and investigative pieces out there that detail their tactics - much more than wine and dine ... there's a big stick, too.

Notice my second comment, however: the place to take care of this is at the checkout and at the ballot box. If you can ban tax breaks, so much the better. If you can elect people to set wage and hour laws, require health care plans that are affordible, and ban tax breaks, that pretty much restricts a lot of their more noisesome "business practices", while solving the problem beyond WalMart's abuses.

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1. Great hours - please keep the store open until at least 11pm on weekends and open early every day
2. please install location activated wheel brakes on the shopping carts--I don't want those carts strung all over the place or stolen by the homeless who rifle through my recyclables
3. Internet deli-ordering - so I can place my order online and then pick it up on the way home without having to stand in line
4. Delivery service would be nice
5. A big section of prepared foods--you know, like the West Roxbury Roche Bros. actually, just copy that store; that would be awesome. Too bad they, an authentic, local business, didn't take the space.
6. To benefit the community, how about having weekly benefit shopping hours--where the store gives 5-10% of sales to a school the shopper designates on their receipt

These are the kinds of "demands" I'd make. Somehow, I doubt any of these ideas fit the agenda of the folks who presume to dictate terms

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It's a grocery store not a multi-service center!!! the JPNC has it's head up its @ss & it's aggravating that this group thinks they are speaking for the community. I used to shop at HiLo - while i liked it for convenience items (milk) it was filthy (cockroaches roamed freely in the onion bin).

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... and manna. They MUST supply manna.

Classic bullshit when zoning means nothing - but you HAVE to GIVE us STUFF.

There's another word for this: EXTORTION. Except they don't have any pictures of the whole foods logo getting it on with Col. Sanders ...

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My sincere hope is that Whole Foods will tell the JPNC to take a hike.

When is that election I keep hearing about?

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Nomination papers are due back Aug. 5.

Details.

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Totally agree, this seems like extortion. It's a grocery store, not a community center, a non-profit, or a public works. This is just power-mad local curmudgeons.

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Basis for bargaining? What, do they think they are the bloody Teamsters? Range of requests? Seriously? "From hiring to types of goods it should carry to funding a program to subsidize purchases at other markets in the neighborhood."

But on the other hand maybe I can be "subsidized" to purchase items at, oh say, City Feed. (I have my eye on a 100oz jug of Ecover Ultra Ecological Laundry Wash on sale this week for $12.77, reg. $17.59 - what a bargain!)

Seriously, the nerve of these folks just blows my mind. What a bunch of entitletards!*

*Kudos to whoever coined this word

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The section on "Food Security and the Latino Community in JP" is utterly absurd. It says the loss of Hi-Lo "is keenly felt both as a matter of need for non-Caribbean Latinos and as a JP cultural icon." To which my response is a simple, "And?"

These schmucks are behaving like Whole Foods came into the neighborhood and drove out Hi-Lo. Hi-Lo failed. It's gone. Dead. Off to meet it's maker. Run down the curtail and joined the bleedin' choir invisible. It's an ex-store. And nothing Whole Foods does or doesn't do is going to change that.

Expecting Whole Foods to carry the goods that Hi-Lo did is unreasonable. It's not what Whole Foods does, and more to the point, if Hi-Lo couldn't stay in business carrying those goods, why on Earth would any other store want to try doing what another store failed at?

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Thank you Michael Reiskind for bringing up that indeed, the community, albeit quite some time ago, DID receive some compensation from Stop & Shop. It is certainly not ongoing in any way that I perceive.

I would like to know what that compensation was comprised of. Just to compare. Y'know, apples to apples.

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Here is the link to a recent JP Gazette article on this subject:

http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/2011/04/15/trust_fu...

In 1998, when Mordechai Levin developed the shopping mall that includes the Stop & Shop next to Bromley Heath, many people objected to the supermarket (some of the same people who are objecting now) because they said that giant grocery store would put out of business all the little stores across the street (it didn't). Mordechai donated $500,000 to a special fund that the owners of those stores could apply to for financial aid if they felt their business was being harmed by Stop & Shop.

But you'll notice that the money from this fund was not given to the stores across the street. (Apparently they never applied for any of it.) It was given to the same familiar "make the world a better place" organizations that we always hear from: City Life, Hyde Square Task Force, etc. And guess who will get any money that's extorted from Whole Foods? The very same people! They benefited from the scam the first time they ran it; they are planning right now for their next jackpot.

How very interesting that Michael Reiskind didn't mention that part of the story. Maybe he just forgot.

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Wouldn't it be nice if individuals involved in this Circus disclosed if they had received any funds, personally or organizationally, from previous community negotiations?

My antenna went up when bleary eyed, I slogged through the 68 pages and saw the words indicating that they wanted WF to pay for a staff person.

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Follow the money.

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