The Zoning Board of Appeal today approved entrepreneurs' plans to turn a dilapidated Blue Hill Avenue building into a home-delivery marijuana service that will use three unmarked vans to ferry orders to customers.
Unlike in the past, when board members would often raise loud objections to placing marijuana businesses within a half mile of each other, board members said they were fine with EnRoot's proposed location at Blue Hill Avenue at Devon Street, just down the street from Pure Oasis, because EnRoot will only make deliveries - there will be no walk-in trade - while Pure Oasis is a more traditional store where customers will come and go.
Because of the different business models, even member Mark Erlich, one of the board's more vocal critics of the cannabis board's repeated approval of cannabis concerns closer than the half-mile separation called for by city zoning, said he could support EnRoot.
EnRoot now needs to win approval from the state Cannabis Control Commission to open.
Board members approved the project with the proviso that EnRoot's owners, Brian and Joanne Keith, work with BPDA planners to develop an exterior design that doesn't make the building simply look like "a fortress" a neighborhood shopping district. Board member Joe Ruggiero said he hopes the two sides can come up with a design that will "make it look like a neighborhood shopping building," even if it's really basically a vault with delivery drivers coming and going.
Also supporting the proposal: At-large City Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune (at large) and state Rep. Liz Miranda (5th Suffolk), who praised the concern's vows to hire 40 local residents.
Opposition came from local religious leaders.
Sister Virginia Muhammad said she worries that Grove Hall will soon be bursting with smoke shops and cannabis outlets, and said she doesn't believe EnRoot will really be hiring 40 people.
The Rev. Miniard Culpepper - who is running against Miranda for state senate - argued the concern would be the epitome of "spot zoning." When board Chairwoman Christine Araujo said no, it wouldn't, that spot zoning is something entirely different, Culpepper kept arguing it was, that the proposed use was different from the surrounding area and that makes it spot zoning. Araujo eventually cut him off.