Freeport’s 1st medical marijuana grower may oust dance studio

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FREEPORT — The town’s first medical marijuana grower is planned for the north end of Route 1, where it could displace a dance studio.

Brody Pagel of Portland, who owns HMP Properties and is a teacher in Falmouth, has applied for a change of use at 1456 U.S. Route 1, where Fusion Dance is leasing the basement and first floor of an existing three-story building.

Pagel’s application will be considered at a staff review meeting Thursday, Oct. 6. The building is being sold to Pagel by Bethesda Christian Broadcasting for $340,000, but Pagel said he has not yet secured financing.

The broadcasting company operated a radio station out of the building and has leased to the dance company for three years. Pagel, a licensed caregiver, said his intention is to use the entire building for his business.

The owners of the dance studio, however, said they were under the impression they could continue leasing the space.

Andrea and Eric Shannon on Tuesday said they are unaware the building is being sold to someone intending to create a marijuana growth facility. The Shannons said the building owner didn’t disclose the nature of the business to them, and told the couple they could continue to operate.

The Shannons said having a medical marijuana grower over their studio would ruin their business, where clients range from 3-70 years old and many are children.

Pagel, a Falmouth Middle School special education teacher, said he understands the Shannons’ concerns. He said the seller of the building told him the studio would be moving.

“We were asked by the seller’s agent not to inform the current tenants about the potential change of ownership at this point,” Pagel said. “We felt obliged to honor that request.”

“I fully believe what we’re doing is a great thing,” he continued, “but I don’t want to cause panic by taking over a dance studio. If the sale of the building does go through, then our first move would be to contact the current tenant in order to talk things through and work out the next steps.”

If financing is secured and the town approves Pagel’s application, his business would be Freeport’s first medical marijuana grower.

The Planning Board is now deciding whether the location of marijuana facilities should be regulated. The board was scheduled to discuss the issue Wednesday night.

The council in February asked the Planning Board to discuss zoning requirements for providers of medical marijuana and whether there should be limits on where dispensaries, growing facilities and opiate addiction treatment facilities can be located. At that time there was no pending application for a facility.

The Planning Board has already given its recommendation regarding methadone clinics, which the Town Council approved Tuesday night. The clinics, which previously were allowed in many zoning areas, are now only allowed in the Commercial 4 district, which is between Hunter and Desert roads.

Pagel said he has no schedule for building the medical marijuana business because it still depends on funding and town approval. He has submitted a detailed plan to the town, however, for how the business will operate.

Pagel said he would deliver the product to patients, and the facility would not be a retail site. There would not be a sign in front of the building to identify its purpose, and the outside of the building would remain unchanged. Renovations would be done only on the inside.

When first asked for an interview, Pagel said he was wary because of his profession as a teacher. Although his application is public information, he asked to have his name concealed so his employer wouldn’t know about the business.

When told that his request for anonymity would not be granted, Pagel threatened to withdraw his application and his business plan. But when he was told such action would not effect publication of a story, Pagel said he would continue with the application process.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Edited Oct. 5, 2016, to clarify that Pagel is proposing a medical marijuana growth business, not a state-licensed dispensary. 

Brody Pagel has submitted a change of use application to Freeport to create the town’s first medical marijuana dispensary at 1456 U.S. Route 1.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.