Master Plan Work Continues In Benton Harbor

Benton Harbor City Commissioners are preparing for the next phase of work on the city’s new master plan. Planning Week was held in June with workshops including the Planning Commission and residents, and all of those presentations can be found at Speaking to city commissioners Monday night, Paul Lippens with McKenna Associates said the community discussions focused a lot on housing.

“We looked at the potential to create Missing Middle housing and attainable housing in the city,” Lippens said. “We know that the city does have a fair amount of property. What we’ve talked about is there are over 500 lots in the city’s possession.”

Lippens said a goal is to increase the tax base while also making sure residents have desirable places to live.

“During Planning Week, we looked at the opportunities to create more opportunities for Missing Middle housing and attainable housing.  That’s duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, places for people to live as owners of property, but also as renters.”

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Lippens said the city owns more than 500 lots, and if they were all to be used for housing, it could lead to nearly $15 million in taxes each year. He said planners also looked at transportation, recreation, and economic development. A goal is to attract more retail to Benton Harbor as Lippens said 88% of every dollar spent by a resident is spent outside the city. Commissioners were asked to take part in additional work sessions in the fall. The planning team is also preparing to hold a talent competition, tentatively set for October 1.