Ted Hanson, Building Official & Zoning Administrator
201 East Market Street, P.O. Box 648, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
(269) 927-8418 (Office) (269) 927-8434 (Main)
Code Compliance occurs when cities and towns enforce their local laws. It is vital to community development. Our Code of Ordinances reflects our local standards. Our combined codes ensure that structures are built safely, property is well maintained, and residents are granted permission for certain activities in a fair and equitable manner.
Equally important to the development of Benton Harbor is our Zoning Ordinance. This ordinance divides our city into residential, commercial, and industrial districts, helping ensure that the property use within each district is reasonably uniform. It also imposes additional restrictions on each of the properties with the goal of creating and maintaining an aesthetically pleasing, efficient city environment.
Review the ordinance if you:
- Own a property and want to know what rules apply
- Want to build and establish a particular purpose
- Want to change your zoning district
The Zoning Map provides a detailed map of the zoning districts.
Forms you may need:
Alcohol License Application
Blossomtime Peddler Vendor Rules
Blossomtime Vendor Application
Building Permit Application
Code Violation Complaint
Demolition Permit Application
Event Approval Form
Night Club License Application
Application for Liquor License
Peddlers and Solicitors Application
Rental Registration, Single Unit
Right of Way Application
Site Plan Review Application
Special Use Application
Tobacco Sales Application
Vendor License Application
Rental Registration, Multiple Units
Frequently Asked Questions about Construction Projects
What is a permit?
A permit is an official document issued by the city that authorizes performance of a specific activity.
When do I need a building permit?
According to the Michigan Building Code, “The provisions of this code shall apply to the construction, alteration, movement, enlargement, replacement, repair, equipment, use and occupancy, location, maintenance, removal and demolition of every building or structure or any appurtenances connected or attached to such building or structures.” Therefore, basically all new construction and any modifications made to an existing structure require a building permit. Most changes to electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems also require permits. All work for which permits are issued must be inspected and approved.
Who should obtain the permit?
The person who is responsible for that work that is done should secure the permit. If a homeowner hires a contractor, the contractor should obtain the permit.
How long is the permit good for?
Work must start on a project within 6 months of the permit being issued and the permit remains valid for as long as work is progressing. If the work stops for 6 months or more, the permit becomes invalid. Extensions may be granted if requested in writing before the permit expires.
When is a Plan Review required?
A plan review is required whenever a commercial or residential building is erected, altered, enlarged, structurally repaired, moved, or converted to a different use.
When is a Site Plan Review required?
A site plan review is required for new commercial or residential buildings and to existing buildings that change uses or are expanded in size.
Do I need an architect to obtain a plan review?
Michigan Law requires that work done on buildings (except single family dwellings under 3,500 SF) be under the seal and signature of a licensed architect or engineer. If the work is minor, this requirement may be waived.
What is a “sealed” drawing?
The licensed architect or engineer must seal the drawings with either an embossed seal or a wet ink seal and then validate the seal with an original signature in ink. Photocopies of sealed drawings are not acceptable. The architect may seal each individual sheet or they may seal an index page that lists all pages for which the architect is responsible.
What should Plans include?
Plans should include a site plan that shows the location of buildings, complete floor plan, wall details, plumbing, mechanical and electrical details.
What must I submit to receive a plan review?
Commercial: a completed building permit application, 4 complete sets of construction drawings with 2 sets properly sealed (including spec books if applicable) plus a deposit for plan review fees.
Residential: a completed building permit application, 2 sets of drawings and a site plan if necessary.
What is the fee?
The fee is based on the value of the project and will be calculated by our staff.
What other approvals may be needed?
If the project is located near or will affect a wetland or in a dune area, a review and permit may be required from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. If the project is located in a flood plain, other requirements may apply.
What about Barrier Free requirements if I am renovating an older building?
Alterations must comply with the requirements of Michigan Barrier Free Design Rules (BFR). There are some exceptions; contact the Barrier Free Design Board of the State of Michigan. Benton Harbor has no authority to grant variances to BFR.
What about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
ADA is a Federal civil rights law, which the City of Benton Harbor has no authority to enforce; therefore, we do not review projects for ADA compliance.