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Neighborhood board opposes licenses for DeLuca's Market

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  December 9, 2011 04:09 PM

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A Beacon Hill neighborhood group has voted against plans for DeLuca's Market to add seating for customers at its Charles Street location after neighbors continued to express concerns about what has become a drawn out renovation and expansion.


DeLuca’s owner Virgil Aiello asked the Beacon Hill Civic Association's Zoning and Licensing Committee Wednesday to support his application for a common victualler license to serve pre-prepared food and coffee at 20 seats he hopes to add to the front of the store.

The addition is part of the ongoing restoration and expansion of the 106-year-old neighborhood icon that was destroyed by a fire in July of last year.

The Boston Licensing Board and Zoning Board of Appeals grants the licenses and variances, but they take neighborhood board opinions into consideration. The association voted 8 to 3 to oppose the Deluca's license and any other licenses until the store addresses neighbors’ long standing concerns.

The shop has faced criticism from neighbors over health violations, unauthorized work, and architectural violations since the renovation process began.

Residents at the meeting also expressed frustration about not having enough information regarding the project and said they wanted to approve the project as a whole, not in sections.

Neighbors who worried trash would block the ally or attract rodents if Aiello uses the building behind his shop for trash storage, hoped to stop the store from expanding, saying Aiello did not have the right to expand to the residential building without a zoning variance.

Terry Dangel, Aiello’s attorney, presented a signed affidavit by the previous tenant of the building stating that it was registered as a business through June 2011, meaning Aiello would not have to apply for a new zoning variance.

Dangel told residents the store can open and use the additional building without their support or approval if it does not add the proposed seating. He encouraged residents to support the license application, however, saying the store would enter into a good neighbor agreement to address abutters’ concerns if they gave a green light to add the cafe.

Aiello had said he hoped to open at least parts of the store by the holidays.

The board also opposed a license and zoning variance for Villa Mexico, the take-out restaurant that has operated out of a gas station at 296 Cambridge St. for the past five years.

Owner Julie King had hoped to move the business to a street level space at 12 Grove St., but neighbors of the proposed site raised concerns about rodent infestation, smells, and increased foot traffic that a take-out restaurant could bring to the narrow, residential street.

King and her daughter, Bessie, assured residents they run a clean, family restaurant that would close at 9 p.m. and cater to neighbors, not late revelers looking for a quick bite.

“These customers are like you, nice people,” King told the audience.

Despite the vote, many association members told King they supported her restaurant and encouraged her to find a venue in a more commercial area of the neighborhood.

The board did unanimously, with one abstention, to not oppose licensing and zoning requests by J.P Licks to open a new ice cream shop at 150 Charles St. located in the Charles Street Garage.

The vote of approval stipulated that the Boston-based company close the location at 11 p.m. instead of the proposed 12 a.m. and promise would not apply for special parking zoning, such as 15-minute parking, in front of the location.

J.P. Licks expects to go before the city board’s in February for approval.

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Kaiser can be reached at johanna.yourtown@gmail.com.

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