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Hearing On Marijuana Ordinance Wednesday

By SCOTT JACKSON

The City Council will hold a public hearing Wednesday on an ordinance that would regulate where in Quincy recreational marijuana dispensaries can open.

The public hearing will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Great Hall of the McIntyre Government Center, 1305 Hancock St. The council’s ordinance committee will meet starting at 6 p.m. that night to consider the marijuana zoning rules and a related measure that would charge a 3 percent local sales tax on recreational pot.

Mayor Thomas Koch introduced the two items in February. A similar ordinance had been before the council during its previous term, which ended in December, but was tabled as city attorneys tweaked the regulations in response to a state law approved last July and other regulations introduced by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.

The zoning ordinance would prohibit recreational dispensaries from opening within 1,500 feet of any residential zoning area. They would also be barred from opening within 500 feet of any school, playground, athletic field, beach, public park, library, skating rink, public transit center, day care facility, or youth sports facility. Those regulations would essentially limit recreational pot shops to the Fore River Shipyard, the vicinity of Ricciuti Drive or Crown Colony.

Hours for such establishments are included in the zoning ordinance. They would be allowed to open between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Companies looking to open a recreational dispensary would be required to obtain a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. A community meeting would be required prior to the application to the ZBA being filed. Applicants would also need to sign a host agreement with the mayor; those host agreements would include a community impact fee of up to 3 percent of gross sales payable to the city for up to five years.

The zoning ordinance would also prohibit off-site sales of non-medical marijuana, as well as stand-alone kiosks. On-site consumption of marijuana would also be banned, and stores violating that provision would risk having their city permits revoked.

The consumption of marijuana in public would continue to be prohibited. Violators could face a civil fine of up to $100.

Massachusetts voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in a November 2016 referendum. Statewide, 53.6 percent of voters backed the measure, and 51 percent of voters in Quincy did so as well.

Because a majority of Quincy voters approved the 2016 referendum, the mayor and City Council cannot ban the sale of recreational marijuana outright.

The ballot measure would have allowed recreational dispensaries to open their doors on Jan. 1, 2018, but lawmakers approved delaying that by six months to July 1. The ballot measure also allows residents 21 and older to grow marijuana in their homes, up to 6 plants per person and 12 per household. Those provisions were unchanged by the July 2017 law approved by state lawmakers.

The July 2017 law also increased the total tax on marijuana from 12 percent as included in the ballot initiative to 20 percent. That includes the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax, a 10.75 percent state excise tax and a local sales tax of up to 3 percent.

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Quincy Police Drug Take Back Day April 28

On Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Quincy Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration will give the public its 15th opportunity in 7 years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

Bring your pills for disposal to Quincy Police Headquarters at 1 Sea St.  (The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches.)  The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last fall Americans turned in 456 tons (912,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and almost 4,300 of its state and local law enforcement partners.  Overall, in its 14 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in more than 9 million pounds—more than 4,500 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows year after year that the majority of misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including someone else’s medication being stolen from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 28 Take Back Day event, go to www.DEATakeBack.com or www.quincypolice.org

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Courtyard Restaurant At Masonic Temple Could Open This Year

A new courtyard space with food and beverage service could open later this year in the year of Quincy Center's Masonic Temple. FoxRock Properties, owner of the building, plans to turn the rest of the building into restaurant and event space. Rendering courtesy FoxRock Properties.

A new courtyard space with food and beverage service could open later this year in the rear of Quincy Center’s Masonic Temple. FoxRock Properties, owner of the building, plans to turn the rest of the building into restaurant and event space. Rendering courtesy FoxRock Properties.

 

By SCOTT JACKSON

The owners of the Masonic Temple in Quincy Center hope to open a new courtyard space on site – featuring food and beverage service and bocce courts – as soon as this year.

FoxRock Properties, the North Quincy-based company that purchased the historic building last year, presented preliminary plans for the site at a community meeting Wednesday at the Coddington Building. The proposal received a warm welcome from most of the dozen residents in attendance.

The Masonic Temple, located at 1170 Hancock St., was built in 1926 and added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1989. A four-alarm fire gutted the building in September 2013, and it has remained vacant since.

FoxRock’s Chet Clem said the company plans to convert the rear portion of the building’s basement, which is now exposed after the section of the building above it was heavily damaged in the fire, into a courtyard.

The new courtyard would sit about 18 feet below grade with a main entrance on Russell Park. Shipping containers would be lowered into the space and house the kitchen and bar area for the courtyard. Picnic tables and bocce courts would also be added to the courtyard, along with awnings to shield guests from sun and rain, restrooms and a lift to provide handicap access.

Clem said one potential operator refered to the space as a permanent food truck with a more extensive menu.

“Think about it as a permanent food truck that has more stuff on the menu and serves craft beer from around the region. It just creates a unique space that doesn’t exist elsewhere in Quincy,” Clem said. “It creates a really unique place right off the Red Line that services folks making it a destination but also services folks in Quincy Center and the surrounding community.”

Shipping containers, he added, have been used for kitchen and bar space elsewhere, such as the Innovation and Design Building in Boston’s Seaport District.

There is no timeline for when the courtyard space would open, but Clem said the company hopes to open it later this year.

“I’d love to say [Major League Baseball] playoffs for this year. I think we’re up against the clock here but we’re proceeding in order to accomplish that,” he said in response to a question from a resident asking if it would be open in time for baseball’s playoffs in October.

After the courtyard opens, Clem said the focus would shift to the remaining portion of the building. Preliminary plans for the building include a formal dining area and function space.

“We’ve been approached by several restaurant groups looking to potentially re-use the existing remaining building as a high-end restaurant and event space,” he said.

The idea to open the courtyard space and then draw up plans for the restaurant inside the rest of the building was brought to FoxRock by a potential operator.

“One operator floated the idea that sparked this whole approach, which was ‘what if it’s the first thing you do? Given all the uncertainty with all the redevelopment going on around the T and the immediate area, what if you started with re-activating the courtyard?’” Clem said.

As part of the proposal, FoxRock hopes to preserve the limestone façade on Hancock Street, which features four Ionic columns.

“We think it’s a fantastic, fascinating building,” he said. “It’s an iconic piece of Quincy history.”

Residents gave the proposal a favorable reception, in particular the decision to save the façade.

Elaine Caliri, a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonic organization, said preserving the façade is important to the temple’s former members.

“I think that would mean a lot to all the former members that used to attend there,” she said. “I’m pleased to hear that would be staying.”

“I think it’s a great idea and I love that you’re keeping the existing façade,” added Michael Kiley. “I think that’s probably the most important thing that we could hear tonight.”

Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy, who hosted the meeting and lives on nearby Whitney Road, said he liked the idea because it would be different from turning the building into residential or office space.

“When they rolled this out to me I thought it was unique,” he said. “I thought it was worth throwing it out to see what folks thought.”

One resident, who declined to give his name, raised concerns over parking for the new restaurant. In response, Clem said there are parking spaces available in a lot on the Russell Park side of the property. FoxRock also has agreements to use parking spaces at Santander Bank next door and at the Presidents Place garage.

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Ban On Construction Vehicles Eyed For Squantum Streets

By SCOTT JACKSON

Mayor Thomas Koch and Ward 6 Councillor William Harris on Tuesday said they would propose legislation at the City Council next week to ban construction and commercial vehicles on the easternmost end of Dorchester Street and Moon Island Road.

Koch and Harris cited serious public safety concerns for any increased usage on the local roads through the densely populated area of Squantum, and said the move makes sense regardless of Boston’s announced intentions to build a new bridge to Long Island.

“This is a public safety issue, pure and simple,” Koch said. “The neighborhood is not built to absorb any more additional uses in that area – whether it be a bridge or anything else.”

“There can be no question,” Harris said, “about the reality and severity of the adverse impacts this additional traffic of quite literally hundreds of trucks every day through a residential neighborhood will have on Squantum. This is a common-sense approach to protect the neighborhood.”

The road safety measure would exempt vehicles owned by the Boston Fire Department or the Boston Police Department, allowing for continued usage of facilities operated by those agencies on Moon Island, which is owned by Boston but lies within the municipal boundaries of Quincy.  The only access to Long Island is via Moon Island.

The new legislation would also make allowances for delivery trucks and other vehicles that need local-traffic access to the homes and other facilities within the boundaries of the proposed restricted area, including the Nickerson VFW Post.

Under the proposal, the commercial and construction vehicle prohibition would begin at the intersection of Dorchester and Shoreham Road and continue onto Moon Island Road.

Koch and Harris will host a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, at Squantum Elementary School, to discuss the public safety aspects of the proposed bridge reconstruction.

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Car Crashes Into Quarry Street Home

By SCOTT JACKSON

A Quarry Street home was deemed unsafe and its residents were relocated after a vehicle struck it Sunday afternoon.

Sgt. Karyn Barkas of the Quincy Police Department said a driver headed northbound on Quarry Street suffered a medical episode around 4:30 p.m. Sunday and hit two parked cars before slamming into the house at 391 Quarry St.

“The operator suffered a medical emergency forcing him to lose control; he struck two parked motor vehicles and then the house,” she said.

The driver, a 67-year-old Quincy man, was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Barkas said. Quincy police filed an immediate threat request with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, she said, which could lead the RMV to suspend or revoke the man’s driver’s license.

The crash caused significant damage to the home at 391 Quarry St., and building inspectors deemed the structure unsafe, forcing the relocation of the residents living there.

“It was deemed unsafe so they were relocated,” Barkas said.

 

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