Event Notices

NEWRA 1/14/13 Agenda: Boston Police, Lewis St. Mexican Restaurant, Gennaro’s 5 North Square, Segway Zoning Change, Candidate Michele Wu

February Meeting Agenda

Thursday, February 14, 2013
7:00 PM
Nazzaro Center, 30 N. Bennet Street


7:00 PM – 7:20 PM

  • President’s Report
  • Membership Committee
  • Parks and Open Space Committee
  • Zoning, Licensing and Construction Committee

Enforcement of Boston’s New Nuisance Control Ordinance

7:20 PM – 7:50 PM
Boston Police Area A-1 Captain Thomas Lee and Sergeant Thomas Lema will be available to answer questions regarding late night noise and other quality of life issues, need for earlier closing hours, and plans for enforcing the City’s new Nuisance Control Ordinance.

Zoning and Licensing Applications

7:50 PM – 8:10 PM
1-3 Lewis Street, Mai Phung for Alvaro Sandoval (restaurant owner) has applied for a variance for take-out service associated with a proposed Mexican restaurant in the first floor space formerly Nick’s Tavern, located on Lewis Street between Fulton and Commercial streets. The Zoning Code lists take-out as a forbidden use at this location. Convection ovens only; restaurant storage in the basement; up to 22 dining seats; and hours of operation 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM, 7 days. Mr. Sandoval currently owns and operates a similar restaurant in Medford Square, called “Tenoch” (http://www.tenochmexican.com/).

8:10 PM – 8:30 PM
5 North Square, Gennaro’s Restaurant, Gerry Riccio has filed an application with the Licensing Board for a new All-Alcohol Beverages License with a 1:00 AM closing hour, 7 days, to replace the existing Malt and Wine with Liqueurs License. The restaurant has a total of 103 seats including 6 seats at a first floor bar and has generally operated up to 10:30 PM. No interior or exterior changes are proposed.

8:30 PM – 8:50 PM
420 Commercial Street, Frances Lauria has filed a zoning appeal to change the legal use of the property from gas station, parking lot and offices to offices, parking lot, Segway rentals and retail of Segway accessories. Boston Gliders operates seasonal Segway tours March 1-December 15, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily; closed on Sundays. Tour routes are approved by the City. The City issued a use violation in June 2012, which the property owner is seeking to correct with the proposed zoning change.

At-Large City Council Candidate Michele Wu

8:50 PM – 9:00 PM
Michele Wu, a candidate for City Councilor-at-Large, will introduce herself to the community and discuss her reasons for running and her goals if elected.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

7 Replies to “NEWRA 1/14/13 Agenda: Boston Police, Lewis St. Mexican Restaurant, Gennaro’s 5 North Square, Segway Zoning Change, Candidate Michele Wu

  1. If there were ever a decision that the North End Waterfront committee would regret it would be to grant a liquor license allowing a tavern or bar to close at 1 or 2 am in North Square Boston. I hope to persuade both the advocates of the proposal and the citizen advisory committee that the impact that such a decision would have a negative impact on the area and to remind them of what zoning restrictions are for. Abutters should be outraged at such a decision, and I urge them as well to consider the consequences in light of the peace and comfort that North Square currently affords them.

    The Boston Landmarks Commission has designated North Square as an historic place. As such the property abutting should be protected. North Square is currently quiet, historical, respected and a welcome respite from the traffic of Hanover Street. It is the home of the Paul Revere House, the Sacred Heart Church and the Mariner’s House, and these form a wonderful and protected haven for its inhabitants. Its natural charm and appeal come from the historic and respectable aura that these places bestow upon it, the subtle glow of the gas lamplights, the beautiful and characteristic architecture that engulfs it. The character of North Square would be transformed for the worse, and it is difficult to believe that a conscionable committee or zoning board would allow it.

    This time threshold is critical, and the transgression thereof is one that residents will find intolerable. Zoning laws distinguish between businesses that operate during normal business hours, and those that are “open to the public before 6AM or extend beyond 12 midnight”. Entertainment uses, currently prohibited in multifamily residential zones, are grouped together, and appropriately so, to include everything from “adult entertainment” to “private club serving alcohol or a restaurant with live entertainment operating after 10:30PM.” This language is not arbitrary and has special meaning in the Zoning Code, as they apply to any retail establishment, and particularly to a “bar, tavern, or other commercial establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold or consumed.”

    A useful precedent, for those who may remember, are the North End feasts. It is the same logic which saved our neighborhood from the unregulated operation of the feasts, lasting until all hours, generating drunkards who would defile our doorways and then wondered why they were met with forceful sanctions from our residents for doing so. The feasts in fact operate in these multifamily zones, and the prohibition of alcoholic beverages and the curfew to contain them to 10 PM or so has solved this problem quite readily, so residents and visitors alike may enjoy these activities without undue consequences.

    There exists no “as of right” use or “allowed uses” for such an establishment in North Square; it will, of course, automatically trigger the objection of the Boston Zoning Commission. There are clear boundary lines in the zoning maps identifying North Square as an area where such use is prohibited. Zoning officials are charged with the denial of applications that do not conform to the Zoning Code, and abutters are required to be notified if the Board is to have a hearing on the matter by Public Notice. I expect that due process will not be circumvented.

    Public safety is compromised in direct proportion to the number of taverns and the density of such establishments. That is why the number of liquor licenses are limited to a quota; an effective way to maintain the urban character of a particular neighborhood. It is a well-documented problem and the subject of many neighborhood meetings the nuisances that patrons of the drinking establishments on Hanover street create when the find their way into quiet residential streets in the early morning hours. (The writer has had first hand encounters with the same, the details of which are better left unsaid.) It is already an area that suffers from the incidental traffic from late night bars on Hanover Street.

    This happens elsewhere in the neighborhood, local businesses are highly cognizant of it, and, to their credit have posted signs urging patrons to respectfully keep their voices and actions to a level that will not disturb residents, many of whom are elderly as well. Countless meetings have been held in the matter of drunkenness in our quiet streets, and the nuisance this wreaks on our residents. The battle is one that is still being fought, with appeals to the Boston Police and promises of more diligent supervision.

    The appeal to change to allow a tavern to operate past midnight is indefensible on a hardship basis, as the owner would not incur undue consequences to an already successful business. While the bar may become more profitable, it will do so at the expense of the citizens who live there, who already deal with incidental traffic from drunken patrons finding their way to their cars or home.

    It is certainly not a question of capacity; I have never seen a line outside a drinking establishment in this neighborhood. Nor do I suggest that taverns and bars are inherently evil dens, and enjoy them on occasion like anyone else and hope that I carry myself gently in whatever neighborhood I may patronize if I do so, as I expect others to do as well. I am certain that other citizens of this North End conduct themselves respectfully, especially sensitive to such issues in their own back yard.

    Zoning laws are enacted for urban conditions precisely as this, but even the best zoning ordinances may cause unintentional burdens to owners of particular parcels. They are regularly challenged with reasonable and ridiculous requests, and typically the reasonable ones are granted. If the letter of the law is prohibitive or imposes undue hardship, officials make exceptions provided the spirit of the code is satisfied. Similarly, if an “as of right” exception or loophole should exist, that legal authority has a responsibility to recognize a deficiency in the code and rectify it. For example, the back of a building happens to be on the border of a commercial district and property faces a multifamily zone where entertainment is prohibited. The same reasoning should apply to the transfer of a license from a zone where it is allowed to one where it is prohibited.

    The existing Zoning is just fine. Little Prince Street elegantly tapers from the bustle of taverns on Hanover Street to a series of quiet restaurants, that then open to North Square. It is a perfect example of good zoning at work, and to disrupt this pattern is to destroy a most delicate gradient of commercial activity, ending quite appropriately where Little Prince meets North Square. The several restaurants that currently operate there have reasonable closing times, and owe their patronage to the calm and pleasant atmosphere that North Square fosters. A late night bar would destroy this atmosphere. In actuality, these restaurants would be shooting themselves in the foot by proposing that they operate a late night tavern in North Square, as their appeal is in no small part due to the location’s reputation for quiet and comfort. Hanover Street is a commercial district, where late night activity belongs, North Square is residential, as is the areas immediately adjacent to it, is zoned as such and should be protected. Bars in fact do better on Hanover Street, because most of the people watching happens there – a major contributor to the success of these establishments.

    Please stop this before it happens. Let us vote to preserve the precious urban fabric which has been nurturing to us for many years, which rich and exceptional memories, and for that same weave to survive us for the benefit of our children, especially those little corners of this neighborhood, like North Square, that offer much needed relief and comfort.

    Better yet, perhaps the proponents of the appeal might reconsider in light of what I have presented. Both their tenants and their patrons will likely embrace such a decision. I think this is a case of “the life you save may be your own”. I know that the owners care a great deal for the North End, always have, and I respect them highly for it – I have all my life and always shall.

    It was not my intention to exhaust the reader when I started this note, though I am afraid I may have done so. What started as a simple comment has turned into an essay. If the reader should reach the end of my post, I urge him to reach back into his memories of this neighborhood, when it was much smaller and tight-knit, what it contributed to him and his family, how it nurtured and sustained him, and to consider carefully my remarks as they are made on behalf of our families, and me, from the bottom of my heart.

    Sandro Carella, Maria the Dressmaker’s son.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly! Something so historic and peaceful about the Square- leave it as it should be – a respite from the inundated busy streets of the No End !!!

  2. Let’s hope Mr. Sandoval is allowed to sell take-out tacos and other tex-mex/mexican specialties. Food diversity in the neighborhood is sorely lacking.

  3. “first floor space formerly Nick’s Tavern, located on Lewis Street between Fulton and Commercial streets”

    I never heard of Nick’s Tavern. When was it open? Wasn’t that space the old Ball and Buck?

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