In a vote of 9-1, the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) opposed the common victualler (C. V.) license for Segway Tours, also known as Boston Gliders, at 75 Commercial Street.
At the February 8th meeting, owner Allan Danley presented his plan to serve coffee, water and non-alcoholic beverages to his clients before and after their Segway tours. He is expanding his operation by moving from 73 to 75 Commercial Street and will add space for a basement call center, viewing/marketing tour photos and serving refreshments, including a coffee bar with 6-8 seats. The applicant does not plan to serve food, although the C.V. license would give him this ability in the future. Hours of operation would be until 8:00 pm with an expectation of about 150 customers per day.
Although the hearing was specific to the C.V. application, public safety issues and “bad neighbor” experiences with the Segway Tours operation were raised by council members and attendees. Boston Gliders has been training customers on the Greenway parks, despite being told it is prohibited. Employees also train new users on the public sidewalks of Commercial St., causing problems for neighbors.
Council Member, Jorge Mendoza, asked about the use of public sidewalks, noting that a restaurant needs a permit to use the sidewalk for tables or chairs. I asked whether the applicant was willing to lease his own space for training. Danley responded that he would not do that, but rather just use the streets and sidewalks. In addition, I asked whey there are no dedicated bathrooms which will be more in need with the proposed beverage service. Danley expects customers to go to the bathroom ‘somewhere else.’
Francine Gannon, 74 Commercial St., raised concerns that a gentlemans’ agreement has always ruled on the residential side of the Mercantile Building not to serve food or beverages. This C.V. license could open up “a Pandora’s box.” She also communicated a safety concern and a series of bad neighbor practices by the applicant, including the parking of a double-decker van for weeks in front of residential housing.
Brett Regan, 90 Commercial St., voiced his negative experiences living near the business including abusive parking and hazardous use of the Segway vehicles by customers and employees. Dan Nuzzo, 96 Commercial St., opposes the application for similar reasons and confirmed the lack of permission to use the Greenway parks for training as a member of the Greenway Leadership Council.
Victor Brogna researched the zoning and said the building is in a “neighborhood shopping zoning district.” A restaurant would need a conditional use permit.
Proponent Danley rebutted the negative comments by citing his clean safety record, management experience and says the neighbors are not always nice either, leaving multiple notes on his vehicle. He noted there were currently no regulations in Massachusetts or Boston regarding the use of Segways and that no one would object if these were 50 motorized wheelchairs instead.
After a motion to oppose the license, the council voted by a show of hands with 9 of 10 votes opposing the application. Boston’s Licensing Board heard the application at a hearing in January and decided to ask the proponent to present to the neighborhood groups. This is a bit unusual since the neighborhood groups generally only hear alcohol-related license applications. NEWNC and NEWRA will submit advisory letters to the Licensing Board before it makes its decision on the C.V. license.
This application will be also be heard by North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) on Thursday, February 11th, 7:00 pm at the Nazzaro Center, 30 N. Bennet St.
Full minutes of the NEWNC meeting are available at NEWNCBoston.org.
Disclosure: I am a NEWNC member and voted with the majority.
Segway Hearing Requested by Councilor LaMattina