EVART -- The former Star Truck Rentals property, 901 W. 7th St. will become the newest medical marijuana retail facility in Evart, if things go according to plan.

James Blais, co-owner and CEO of NBB Holdings, LLC, a Michigan based marijuana processing and distributing company, updated the Evart City Council on the project at its meeting on April 6.

"We are still moving forward at full speed with our operations to build a marijuana processing and provisioning center in the city," Blais said. "Our phase one application has been approved by the state, and we have submitted our application for phase two."

The phase two application has been approved, pending inspection of the facility once the build out is completed, he added.

"We will have the construction drawings completed this month," Blais said. "We hope to have the renovation of the building completed and the facility fully operational by the end of this year."

After working with the city of Evart and the former Evart Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA) to purchase property in the airport industrial park for more than a year, NBB Holdings executives previously determined the property there was not suited to their needs.

In order to move forward with their plans to build a marijuana processing and provisioning center in the area, they decided to purchase the former Star Truck Rentals property, which they are now in the process of renovating.

NBB Holdings has a licensing agreement to produce, distribute and sell AltMed's MUV product line in Michigan, according to the business plan they submitted to city administrators.

"We hold a processing and a provisioning license with the city, as well, which will allow us to establish a retail store, and produce products and distribute them throughout the state to other retail locations," Blais said.

The business plan states that NBB Holdings, LLC plans to develop a 50,000-square-foot facility that will employ up to 60 full-time workers, with no less than half of the workers coming from the local community.

In other business, the council approved a recommendation for city manager Sarah Dvoracek to extend five current marijuana licenses with the city until May 18. The license holders have applied for renewals with the city and are awaiting review.

"During this coronavirus crisis, all five of the current marijuana license holders expired," Dvoracek said. "We have five renewal applications right now that need to be reviewed, but because that has not been a priority during this pandemic, I am recommending the council extend the current licenses until May 18, to give the city staff and others time to do a thorough review."

Dvoracek said the license renewals must be reviewed by administration staff, the city attorney, the fire chief, the city treasurer and the zoning administrator before they can be approved.

If the licenses are allowed to expire, the businesses would no longer be able to legally operate until the renewals are approved.

"The extension is because of the pandemic and is not the fault of the holder," Dvoracek said. "I don't think we can shut someone down because the city hasn't had an opportunity to review their application. They shouldn't be penalized for that.

"I think it is a good business partnership to extend the five licenses until we can review them," she continued.

Evart Mayor John Joyce agreed, saying, "To hurt a local business just because we couldn't get to the review process is just bad business."

The motion to extend the current licenses until May 18 was approved by a vote of 4-1.