Plan for onetime aquarium drew strong opposition from residents
The controversy surrounding a proposed medical marijuana dispensary on the long-vacant former aquarium property, prominently located at the entrance to Hull, has come to an end about a year after it was first advanced by the building’s owners.
In an email dated June 28 and addressed to “friends and neighbors,” Hull resident Sean D. Power announced that he now intends – for his own “related business interests” – to put the property, which he purchased for $900,000 in 2019, on the market, “with the expectation that a different use for this particular site can be found and expedited.”
Power and Jeffrey Shaheen are the principals of Latitude 42, the applicant for the project, which initially included cannabis cultivation. However, Power withdrew that component of the proposal last April. He noted in the email that he is a Hull resident “for the long haul and, like you, want to see the highest and best use for the property moving forward, without a prolonged or contentious process.”
Power explained in part how he arrived at that decision. “Just as the dynamic cannabis industry continues to blossom across the Commonwealth, I, too, have been busy pursuing other opportunities,” he stated in the email.
Last year Power joined with a group of partners and investors to launch the Power Fund, “which intends to be a leading venture in the cannabis cultivation marketplace. I am very excited that our vision for bringing a high-quality, top-tier cannabis enterprise into the Massachusetts market is well underway,” he reported.
As Power moves forward with efforts to market the aquarium’s 120 Nantasket Ave. location, he is inviting suggestions, referrals, and counsel from local vendors, residents, and businesses. “I will offer updates on the progress in the coming weeks and look forward to supporting a feasible plan for the re-use of this important Hull property,” he said in the email.
A June 24 Facebook post by Realtor Merideth Love, indicating that the sale of the 14,364-square-foot commercial building will be “coming soon,” drew attention among Hull residents. The post features photos/videos of the former aquarium and states that the building has “Nantasket beachfront” and is in a “high-visibility” location. The listed price is $1.3 million, according to the post.
In response to an email from The Hull Times on June 25, Town Manager Philip Lemnios said he became aware of the “potential listing” from a resident who forwarded the information to him. He also stated that the town has received “nothing new from [applicants Sean Power and Jeffrey Shaheen] regarding an [expected] updated or revised filing” following major proposed changes to the original application last spring.
Asked if he had any further comments to offer this week, Lemnios said he had “nothing new to add at this point.”
As background, a remote Select Board public forum on Latitude 42’s proposal to repurpose the building into a full-service “boutique” medical marijuana dispensary, including cultivation and research, was postponed last April because the board had received word earlier that week that Power and Shaheen were intending to remove the cultivation component.
At the beginning of that well-attended meeting, Chair Jennifer Constable explained that the forum would not move forward that evening because the board was not yet familiar with the specifics. “The proponent will be outlining exactly what those changes are and how they will impact the original application,” she said at that time. “Without knowing [what the details] are and how they will impact the remainder of the application, there is [no basis for] a forum discussion.”
However, Power was given an opportunity to briefly explain the reasons for the change. “We have had the opportunity over the last year to create a plan to operate a business in Hull, and we’ve learned a lot,” he said. “While we remain committed to the vision of opening a medical marijuana treatment center at that location, we did listen to the community and have been looking at other locations” to carry out the cultivation aspect.
At that time, Power said he and Shaheen were seeking guidance on how to effectuate what Power referred to as “substantial” changes to the proposal in order to move forward as quickly as possible to submit a revised or new application. Power’s announcement this week means that will not be the case.
There are three steps in the review process for this type of project: submission and evaluation of the completeness of the application, already accomplished before the proposed changes; the evaluation phase; and the decision-making part when the Select Board decides whether or not to approve the application.
During the April meeting, the board agreed to extend all the dates related to different aspects of the Latitude 42 review process that are part of the board’s Rules and Regulations for Consideration of Requests for Host Community Agreements (adopted last September and pertaining to medical marijuana facility proposals that come before the town) to allow ample time to consider the revised proposal and public input and to potentially hire expert consultants for consultation with other town boards.
The first, already-approved medical marijuana dispensary in Hull, Alternative Compassion Services, slated for the former Java Jungle site at 175 George Washington Blvd., does not include cultivation and has not yet opened.