55 University Drive bottom left, proposed housing across the street
Red lines indicated 300' reach
The Select Board may want to think about the "letter of support or non opposition" for a medical marijuana facility proposed at 55 University Drive since it could kill a proposed 32 unit apartment development directly across the street.
According to the recent Amherst zoning bylaw governing medical marijuana facilities there has to be a 300 foot buffer zone from apartments (unless they are located in a mixed use building).
The Planning Board is sponsoring a warrant article for spring Town Meeting to change the zoning on the 5.79 acre property directly across the street from 55 University Drive from Office Park to Business Limited, which would allow for the construction of badly needed student housing.
Building Commissioner Rob Morra confirmed, "As written the bylaw does not consider one use existing before the other." In other words first come first serve. And if you are a pot facility first, that means no housing will be developed within 300' feet of your front door.
The 300' buffer extends far enough into the open field across the street (which is already development challenged by wetlands) to make the proposed project unfeasible.
Thus a potential $7 or $8 million development, that would pay the town $150,000 annually in property taxes, is killed by a much smaller medical marijuana facility that will pay less than $20,000 annually.
So Amherst Select Board, what's more important? Helping to ease the significant stress on our housing market -- while generating substantial tax revenues -- or providing a medicinal herb?
Because of stringent bylaw exclusions University Drive is about the only place in town for a medical marijuana facility