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Published on February 23, 2024
Dedham Zoning Board Denies Expansion of Catering Services for Homeless and Migrants in Massachusetts HotelsSource: Google Street View

Dedham's Zoning Board put the brakes on a proposed expansion that would have allowed a catering company to feed additional migrants and homeless people housed in various Massachusetts hotels. The vote came down Wednesday night, putting to rest Giri Hotel Management's plans to use the now-closed Victory Grille on Elm Street to prepare meals. Despite Giri already serving over 400 individuals from a neighboring hotel, the board denied the special permit needed to cater beyond these walls, NBC Boston reported.

Giri Hotel Management, which owns several local hotels, had jumped through hoops to support nine of its properties that are currently housing homeless individuals and newly arrived migrants. These locations are tied to the state's emergency shelter assistance program. However, the Zoning Board's decision restricts the company's operations to just the residents next door to the vacant restaurant, a move that has drawn mixed reactions from the community. One Dedham resident, talking about the need to utilize empty spaces for a humane cause, said, "The question here is not about whether or not people should be here, the question is can we use this empty space as a way to feed human beings in crisis," according to a statement given during the public meeting.

Some residents expressed their dissent, fearing the impact of a widened operation in the vicinity. "I don’t think this is the right spot for it. We’re being closed in, we’re being suffocated," expressed one individual during the public comment segment of the meeting. Others were concerned about the potential for increased traffic and the disruption of the local business ecosystem that includes Legacy Place and other establishments, as noted in an interview with an unnamed resident who declined to be filmed, sourced by NBC Boston.

Giri Hotel Management emphasized its commitment to finding alternative solutions. The company signaled its intention to look for a different facility to continue its humanitarian efforts. Meanwhile, the status quo remains for the 161 families, including newly arrived migrants living in two Dedham hotels such as the Inn Dedham, WHDH reported. The recent proposal rejection will not affect the current shelter or food being provided at the Dedham hotel.