BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor city commissioners paved the way for the city’s first medical marijuana facility Monday night by approving a special land use permit.

NoBo Michigan Director Bill Stohler said after the meeting that he is relieved.

“We gambled and we started deconstruction,” he said. “We’ll be completed with the demolition by the end of the week and we’ll start construction next week.”

The facility will be at the now-closed Harbor Light Metals, a former aluminum smelting plant at 900 Alreco Road. Stohler said his company will finish buying the property from the Berrien County Land Bank as soon as possible for $450,000.

Stohler said the action includes approval for three medical marijuana licenses – two for Class C growers and one for a processing center. The company can grow up to 1,500 marijuana plants for each Class C growers license it receives.

The application now goes to the state for final approval. He said he anticipates no problems since the company was prequalified by the state.

Stohler said his company plans to hire 65 people, with 18 of them in management. He said the first priority for jobs and contracts will be given to Benton Harbor residents and businesses. He said they should be ready to start hiring people by November, with the first crop harvested early in 2020.

Human resources will be handled by Higher Staffing and Recruiting Services of Benton Harbor, which is owned by Benton Harbor native Gwen Swanigan, who also operates the nonprofit S.H.A.R.P. Foundation (Society Harmonizing Against Racial Profiling).

Swanigan said anyone interested in a job can contact her via email at higherstaffing@outlook.com or by calling 558-3190.

For security, Stohler said his company is hiring Roger Lange with Lange Investigation & Consulting Service in Benton Harbor.

He said he is still working on securing a license for a provisioning center at a different location in Benton Harbor.

Alan Bonsett, founder and CEO of NoBo Michigan, told city officials in June that his company plans to invest $6 million at the site at 900 Alreco Road.

“We want to make it a success story the community can rally behind,” he said at the time.

Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege