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Villa Mexico Owners Urge Neighbors to Discuss Their Concerns

The cafe's owners, Julie and Bessie King, both of Stoneham, are hoping to iron out any concerns Grove Street neighbors in Beacon Hill might have before the zoning board meeting March 27.

Although Villa Mexico didn't get the neighborhood's zoning committee approval to move their restaurant to 12 Grove St., the owners are hopeful that with the support of the neighbors they will be able to do so.

Stoneham resident Julie King, who owns the cafe and runs it with her daughter, Bessie, sent out a flyer two weeks ago to Grove Street residents, asking them to meet with her March 21 at 6:30 p.m. at her restaurant in Grampy's gas station, at 290 Cambridge St., to discuss any concerns they have about her business.

"As a business owner who has operated in Beacon Hill for more than five (5) years, I am mindful of the concerns of my neighbors. I will do everything to ensure that the impacts associated with operating 12 Grove Street are less than what has been, or is, experienced at my current location," King wrote in the flyer.

Mysterious Flyer Circulates Through Grove Street Area

Shortly after King's flyer was distributed on Grove Street, an anonymous flyer was sent to neighbors, apparently in response, that urged residents to oppose King's application over concerns about smells from the restaurant, trash storage and a lack of parking.

But King said that her indoor ventilation system eliminates odors, that she produces one bag of trash a day since she doesn't use canned items and that she wouldn't have delivery trucks because she has no suppliers.

"There is no need to be scared or scare others with letters like this," Julie King said of the anonymous flyer. "We are not going to hurt the street. We don't want to hurt the street."

King wrote in the flyer that the restaurant is her "sole means of support and our family's pride. If I cannot be given the opportunity to relocate in this small space, I will be put out of business."

Denied by ZBA

In December she went before the Beacon Hill Civic Association's Zoning and Licensing Committee, asking for their support when she goes before the city's Zoning Board of Appeals to seek a variance to open a take-out-only restaurant at 12 Grove St. Amid the concerns of several Grove Street neighbors who appeared at the meeting, the neighborhood committee voted not to support the move.

Often such a vote from a neighborhood committee carries significant weight with the city ZBA. King, however, is going forward with her application at a meeting scheduled for March 27 at 10:30 a.m. in City Hall (room 809-A).

"We have not taken the finger off the little spot on Grove Street because, well, we still have nowhere else to go. We have also been reaching out to the neighborhood to work together to build a better street," King wrote in an email update she sent out last week.

Show Your Support

She is asking those who want her to stay on the Hill to show their support, either in person or by writing a letter to the ZBA beforehand.

"This day is crucial for us because: 1) either we get the variance permit to move into 12 Grove or 2) we go out of business in Beacon Hill," King wrote in the newsletter.

At the same time, the civic association's zoning committee is urging neighbors, whehter they support or oppose the restaurant's relocation, to attend the ZBA meeting or write letters.

A Call to Action

Anyone wishing to write the ZBA should do so by March 24. Emailed comments are not accepted. Letters may be mailed to:

City of Boston, Board of Appeal, in re: March 27 hearing, 1010 Massachusetts Ave., 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.

King also offered to mail any letters of support for those who write them.

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