Incoming Amherst cannabis store means martial arts studio must move – GazetteNET

Staff Writer

Published: 1/15/2020 11:20:45 PM

Modified: 1/15/2020 11:19:54 PM

AMHERST — Municipal zoning rules that determine where marijuana dispensaries can be situated are forcing the relocation of a long-running martial arts studio from its site in the East Amherst village center.

Amherst Martial Arts, which arrived at the plaza on College Street in the fall of 2018, is expected to have its lease end this spring, said Annie Schwarz, the Tae Kwon Do school’s owner and head instructor. A recreational cannabis dispensary plans to open within 300 feet of the martial arts studio and town zoning requires a 300-foot buffer from any location “in which children commonly congregate in an organized ongoing formal basis.”

“At this time I don’t know where we will be going,” Schwarz said.

The end of the lease, with the notification from property owner Paul Shumway, comes as RC Retail Amherst LLC plans to open the Red Cardinal cannabis shop in a vacant storefront at 330 College St., last used by Green Wave Garden Supply & Hydroponics. The plaza is also home to restaurants, a smoke shop, a flooring store and a furniture store.

The martial arts studio, which opened in 1991 and was a fixture in downtown Amherst until its move to the new site, will have to again find new quarters, even though it was at the location before the marijuana shop was proposed.

Schwarz said she already got the month-to-month lease extended from November to April after discussions with representatives from the company and the town, but would likely need to have the Zoning Board of Appeals grant an exception to stay beyond that.

Economic Development Director Geoff Kravitz said the ZBA would likely take the proximity into consideration in its decision when issuing a special permit.

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