Based on several chain stores beginning to start up in Boston’s neighborhood business districts, City Council legislation has been filed to bring some protection to local businesses and more public notification to the City’s application system.
City Councilors Lydia Edwards, whose district includes the North End, and, former Council President Michele Wu have filed legislation that would remove the “as of right” designation for chain-stores and all of Boston’s business districts.
“It’s (legislation) going to give neighborhoods protection that don’t exist right now,” Councilor Edwards said. “A lot of times these companies can come in neighborhoods by right and they located before anyone knows about it.”
The bill would amend Boston’s Zoning Code to regulate formula retail uses, also known as chain stores and require a conditional use permit for any such business to open up and operate in the neighborhood business district.
In addition, chain stores would be defined as retail or serve establishments that have 11 or more locations and two or more of other features such as a standardized array of merchandise, fascinate, decor, color scheme, uniform apparel, signage, a trademark or service mark.
Currently, the measure is in the Council’s Planning Development and Transportation Committee where legality of the City imposing it is being studied based on, challenges on the subject.
If approved, the legislation will remove the “as of right” section and make chain stores a conditional use forcing public meetings in neighborhoods, allowing residents and the local businesses to be included in the process right from the start.
Eventually, the Council measure must be approved by Mayor Martin J. Walsh who is attempting to create more businesses and jobs to bolster the City’s economy.
Councilor Edwards stood by residents when a Starbucks was proposed at 198 Hanover Street. The proposal was withdrawn.
Mayor Walsh and Representative Aaron Michlewitz also opposed the change store.
Both community organizations NEWRA and NEWNC oppose the Starbucks plans. They also did not support a request by Citizens Bank to relocate to 198 Hanover Street. The bank is currently located on Hanover Street.