The leader filed a text amendment
On Feb. 2, Councilor Julia Mejia filed a text amendment to a zoning code which could “establish formula retail uses,” all in response to the rewarding of a liquor license to retail chain Total Wine and Spirits in Dorchester. A formula retail use is a “type of retail sales or service activity or retail sales or service establishment” which has 11 or more other similar establishments in operation, “with local land use or permit entitlements already approved.” Mejia commented on why she took this action, in a media release.
“We’ve heard the phrase ‘small businesses are the backbone of our country’ so often that it’s started to lose its meaning,” said Mejia. “Those words need to be backed up with action and major system changes, and that’s what we’re doing here today.”
According to the release, “the text amendment would ban formula retail uses from existing in residential neighborhoods and make their development in commercial zones conditional.”
“The challenges of the pandemic have completely strained and practically destroyed small businesses throughout our city,” said Carlos Castillo, a local small business owner. “Allowing national multi-billion dollar companies to come into Boston will be the final straw to completely change the fabric of our neighborhoods.”
“If we allow small, locally owned businesses to be replaced by faceless corporate entities, we lose the bonds that tie our neighborhoods together and make us a strong, healthy city,” said Mike Szkolka, president of the Columbia/Savin Hill Civic Association. “Without an amendment like this, it’s clear that the voice of the community can be ignored, and replaced by the interests of a few wealthy investors. For our neighborhoods to thrive, our local businesses need to be supported, which is why this order is so necessary.”
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.