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Letter: Villa Mexico Owner Hopeful But Skeptical of Future on Beacon Hill

The restaurant will have its last appearance before a city board on May 8.

Editor's note: below is a letter from Julie King, the owner of Villa Mexico Cafe.

As I told you in my last email, I was going to let you know what happened in the meeting with the abbutter's lawyer, Mrs. Sandra Steele. This was held on Tuesday, April 17th, at City Hall.

Well my friends, the meeting was set up by recommendation of our city's mayor. As you may recall an aide from the Office of Neighborhood Services helped us organize it. Due to the fact that the abbutter hired a lawyer, we had to speak with her legal representative and try to get a consensus. That was the purpose of meeting. 

Our prospective landlords, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, attended along with our lawyer, Richard Lynds, Bessie and I. We were all very happy because we finally had an opportunity to smooth the rough spots and talk about the abbuter's worries. To our surprise, when we arrived Villa Mexico's presence, Bessie and I, was questioned by our assigned community aide. 

It appeared that the abbutter's lawyer wanted to discuss what "else" could be a good fit for Mr. and Mrs. Wilson's storefront space. Nowhere in her agenda was Villa Mexico Cafe. The meeting did not even take place because we were present, but we were not aware that for this lawyer and her client our case had been closed. 

We arrived at City Hall hoping to have a conversation to answer the abbutter's concerns. Which are minimum because we have all the answers to the issues she has raised. But things were set up with a different conversation in mind. Despite the fact that when we deferred our last hearing, on March 27th to follow the mayor's earnest advice we did so to communicate with the opposition.

I am not aware if our mayor knows of this outcome. We tried to follow his recommendation, but it seems to me that our opposer only wanted more time to convince others, including our landlord, to not let us relocate. Wasting not only our time but my customer's time, and giving us all false hopes. 

Unfortunately, we have clearly heard now from key City Hall offices that we are not going to get the zoning permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). 

******
I wonder if the members of the ZBA are already instructed to deny our permit application at our May 8th hearing, without giving us a chance to prove we would continue to be a good business and neighbor in our community.

I don't know what is going to happen in two weeks. My only option now is to go to our last hearing, speak with my open heart, try to fill up that room with all of my wonderful supporters, and hope that together we can convince the ZBA members to give us a "yes," because I still believe that your voice and hands raised are valuable.

We have been criticized for wanting, with all our might, to stay on Grove Street. The fact is that I do not have $5,000, $8,000, or $10,000 to spend on a monthly rent in one of the few vacant spaces on the Hill. We do not want to go into another convenience store because our goal is to be independent, to serve you all better. And, most importantly, nowhere will we find a turn-key, everything included, project like Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are offering to help us. 

My greatest mistake in these 13-plus years of having the business, six of them in Beacon Hill, has been not becoming rich. I have worked hard to support my family and my daughter's education. I do not have the money to relocate into another place as we have been urged by the community association to do so.    I have been very honest with you through this whole process and I wanted to tell you exactly what happened. As I always have said, we are in Gods' Hands and  I still believe in justice. My friends, I am asking you for your big support, I know it could be very difficult for you because of your working schedules but please give us a little of your time and join us on May 8th. Let us try once more to get a chance and maybe, maybe all together  we will get it.  
ZBA Hearing
Tuesday, May 8th 2012
Floor 8th - 11a.m. 
City Hall, Boston.

We will see my friends, I know we are not alone and I truly thank you for your visits and words of encouragement these days. God willing, something good will come.

GBUA
Julie 

---------------------------------------------------

An edited version of the letter ran on Patch Wednesday:

Well my friends, the meeting (on April 17 with the abutter's lawyer) was set up by recommendation of our city's mayor. As you may recall an aide from the Office of Neighborhood Services helped us organize it. Due to the fact that the abutter hired a lawyer, we had to speak with her legal representative and try to get a consensus. That was the purpose of meeting. 

Our prospective landlords, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, attended along with our lawyer, Richard Lynds, Bessie and I. We were all very happy because we finally had an opportunity to smooth the rough spots and talk about the abuter's worries. To our surprise, when we arrived Villa Mexico's presence, Bessie and I, was questioned by our assigned community aide. 

It appeared that the abutter's lawyer wanted to discuss what "else" could be a good fit for Mr. and Mrs. Wilson's storefront space. Nowhere in her agenda was Villa Mexico Cafe. The meeting did not even take place because we were present, but we were not aware that for this lawyer and her client our case had been closed. 

We arrived at City Hall hoping to have a conversation to answer the abutter's concerns. Which are minimum because we have all the answers to the issues she has raised. But things were set up with a different conversation in mind. Despite the fact that when we deferred our last hearing, on March 27th, to follow the mayor's earnest advice we did so to communicate with the opposition.

I am not aware if our mayor knows of this outcome. We tried to follow his recommendation, but it seems to me that our opposer only wanted more time to convince others, including our landlord, to not let us relocate. Wasting not only our time but my customer's time, and giving us all false hopes. 

Unfortunately, we have clearly heard now from key City Hall offices that we are not going to get the zoning permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). 

******
I wonder if the members of the ZBA are already instructed to deny our permit application at our May 8th hearing, without giving us a chance to prove we would continue to be a good business and neighbor in our community.

I don't know what is going to happen in two weeks. My only option now is to go to our last hearing, speak with my open heart, try to fill up that room with all of my wonderful supporters, and hope that together we can convince the ZBA members to give us a "yes," because I still believe that your voice and hands raised are valuable.

We have been criticized for wanting, with all our might, to stay on Grove Street. The fact is that I do not have $5,000, $8,000, or $10,000 to spend on a monthly rent in one of the few vacant spaces on the Hill. We do not want to go into another convenience store because our goal is to be independent, to serve you all better. And, most importantly, nowhere will we find a turn-key, everything included, project like Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are offering to help us. 

My greatest mistake in these 13-plus years of having the business, six of them in Beacon Hill, has been not becoming rich. I have worked hard to support my family and my daughter's education. I do not have the money to relocate into another place as we have been urged by the community association to do so.    I have been very honest with you through this whole process and I wanted to tell you exactly what happened. As I always have said, we are in Gods' Hands and  I still believe in justice. My friends, I am asking you for your big support, I know it could be very difficult for you because of your working schedules but please give us a little of your time and join us on May 8th. Let us try once more to get a chance and maybe, maybe all together  we will get it.  
ZBA Hearing
Tuesday, May 8th 2012
Floor 8th - 11a.m. 
City Hall, Boston.

We will see my friends, I know we are not alone and I truly thank you for your visits and words of encouragement these days. God willing, something good will come.

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