Upham's Corner Online

Area Residents Say  'No'  to Request for Rushed Approval

Posted: December 12, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

The response by area residents to a request for a "rushed" approval is is an example of how our Boston-area neighborhoods (Upham's Corner) recognize their right to review, deliberate and vote upon neighborhood changes that may impact their quality of life.  The residents value this local control and DO NOT want it usurped.

What happened?

Residents of the Westside Neighborhood Association (UCWNA) received a letter from their President, Bob Haas, saying that he would write a letter of support for Paraiso Restaurant's request for additional business licenses if the group agreed.

But they didn't.  "Why the rush?" 

As a result the restaurant's manager, Gregorio Colon, requested a delay in the early December hearings and they have been rescheduled for February 28, 2011.

On December 13 (which is after the original hearing date), the Westside Association met to discuss the restaurant's requests.  This took place with the "usual" residents in attendance who enjoy discussing the pros/cons and implications to the neighborhood of the planned changes.

Mr. Colon's presentation of his long-term business goals seemed to please the group.  Except for one person abstaining, UCWNA voted unanimously to support the restaurant's license requests.

Click here ===> How Paraiso Restaurant plans to manage new licenses.

On December 1, 2011 Bob Haas, President of the Upham's Corner Westside Neighborhood Association sent out email asking for comments regarding Paraiso Restaurant's application for both takeout and entertainment licenses.

December 1, 2011

Dear UCWNA Neighbors and Friends,
This week I attended a meeting with Ramon “Gregory" Colon, one of the owner/managers of Paraiso Restaurant, at 750 Dudley St., in the space formerly occupied by 750 Grille.  They are seeking a zoning variance to accommodate takeout, and an entertainment license and are caught in a bind without sufficient time to properly seek community support.
For some reason, their hearings before the zoning board and also the licensing board are scheduled for next Tuesday, Dec. 6, which doesn't leave enough time for us to have a full discussion at our next scheduled UCWNA meeting, which would be Dec. 13.  As far as I can tell, no one, not UC Main Street or any other organization, got notification before about a week ago.
Based on my conversation with Mr. Colon and my experience of the restaurant (they have really good food but need more customers to survive at their Upham's Corner location), I would like to support Paraiso.  But I told Mr. Colon that I was unable to speak for the whole neighborhood without a full process.  The hearings could defer their decisions to a later date, but that would likely be in January, after the holiday season.
In my opinion, it's important for Upham's Corner to help this restaurant achieve profitability as soon as possible, and based on my experience with Mr. Colon, I can say that he's highly responsible and wouldn't abuse the advantages obtained by the variance and the license he seeks.
Please give me feedback.  If I hear no negative responses by next Monday, I would like to write a letter of support.
Your President,
Bob Haas 
Larry Fabian

"For some reason" is something that should be known and knowable. Why no proper notice? Why should he get special treatment?  I say no.

Larry Fabian
Joanne Tuller

I support the idea of a license for takeout.  I think that would be a good service for the neighborhood, as well as being good for his business.  I believe it's in the neighborhood's best interest to have a successful restaurant in that location.
As to entertainment, do we know what kind of entertainment, and during what hours, he is requesting?  That would affect my opinion.
Joanne Tuller
John Barros

Thanks for bringing this to our attention and for already talking to the owner. Its really important. I agree with many of your points. However, I think there is too much at risk to skirt a neighborhood conversation on this.  If we allowed this to be the process it would send the wrong message to he new owner of Paraiso Restaurant and the Zoning and Licensing boards.

I say we ask the Zoning and Licensing boards to postpone the hearing until there is a meeting.  Although, I have a conflict and can't make the Dec 13th meeting I really value what my neighbors have to say on this and most importantly that they have a say. I would be willing to help draft a letter to the Zoning and Licensing boards on this.


Rep. Henriquez

Dear Neighbors, 

I have met with Ramon Colon, one of the owners of Paraiso Restaurant on 750 Dudley Street. I believe that there is a niche in our neighborhood to be served by this restaurant. I think the take-out and live band are great ideas.

However, I also stressed the importance of having a thorough community process to Mr. Colon. He has done a good job in the short amount of time that he’s had to reach out to different neighborhood associations. I believe there needs to be more dialogue with immediate abutters and other neighbors to address any concerns. Mr. Colon goes in front of the zoning board of appeals tomorrow (12/6/11) and I have asked him to request a deferral to allow more time for neighbors to weigh in. I will support a deferral to ensure this process includes more residents. As your State Representative your opinions on this issue are what matter to me most.

 I also want to clearly state that Mr. Colon has been very cooperative and pledged to work with residents to be a good neighbor. He is willing to knock on doors and engage residents at their doorstep to make sure they are heard. I am pleased by his commitment to community.

Serving community,   
Carlos Henriquez, State Representative
Alma Finneran

Deferral seems the way to go and hopefully Mr. Colon will be able to present his plan to the various neighborhood groups with sufficient time for questions and responses and discussion. Thanks to all for your help.

Alma Finneran
Catherine Walker

I would strongly agree with Ms. Finneran's points.

I would also like to point out that this issue of late (or no) notification regarding zoning issues is something that the neighborhood has experienced before. It happened similarly with a residential drug treatment program that was trying to situate itself in the old St. Kevin's convent on Bird St.

I could also reference the Keno license given to El Frutero recently, with no appropriate notification to the neighborhood or even to the Police Department. I would like respectfully to request that our elected representatives, Rep. Henriquez and City Councillors Jackson and Baker, collaborate to improve this process.

Thank you in advance for your help on this!
Catherine Walker
Mr. Colon's presentation of his long-term business goals seemed to please the group.  Except for one person abstaining, UCWNA voted unanimously to support the restaurant's license requests.

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