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Councilman Wants to Ban New Banks From Boston Neighborhood

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"Banks don’t add much to the neighborhood."

Boston City Councilor Michael Ross wants to block big banks from adding branch stores to a Beacon Hill neighborhood, CBS Boston reports.

“The proliferation of large banks that would replace the small mom-and-pop stores threatens to erode the character of Charles Street,” Ross said.

“For banks to occupy a 50-foot storefront, shut down at 5 p.m. and be closed on weekends creates dead space. We’re talking about a commercial business district that is thriving and it needs to be protected,” he added.

Ross has proposed a plan that would force banks to seek the approval of the Zoning Board of Appeals to open new branches on Charles Street.

Watch the CBS Boston report:

This isn’t the first time people in the area have fought against banks opening new branches.

Back in January, Capital One wanted to lease space vacated by the Charles Street Market, “a beloved convenience store,” according to CBS Boston.

“Neighbors organized to keep Capital One out, arguing that more banks would hurt the street that works best with independent shops and upscale boutiques that are not available on Newbury Street and Downtown Crossing,” the report adds.

Capital One conceded defeat.

Ross’ battle will pit him against Mayor Thomas M. Menino. The mayor  says Ross’ zoning plan would “wreak havoc” by “requiring a special permit for one kind of retailer.”

“That’s reactionary zoning and we don’t do that,” Menino told the BBJ.

“I’d rather work with the businesses on Charles Street to have an effective way to deal with the issue. I’d rather make an effort to entice, not prohibit certain kind of uses. I’m not even sure we could have a zoning amendment that just excludes banks,” he added.

Susan Symonds, former president of the Beacon Hill Business Association, sides with Ross and said that adding banks to an “intimate neighborhood shopping district” like Charles Street “detracts from its destination feeling.”

“People will not come to Charles Street anymore if it’s not a shopping destination,” she said.

“Banks don’t add much to the neighborhood. You don’t visit Newbury Street or Charles Street to go to a bank. Most people bank online anyway.”

(H/T: CBS Boston)

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