BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor planning commissioners put two projects on hold this week because they were given the plans an hour before the meeting.

Vice Chairman Richard Hensel said they are supposed to get the plans at least two weeks before meetings so they have time to review them.

One of the delayed projects is for the site plans of NoBo Michigan, which plans to build a medical marijuana facility at the now-closed Harbor Light Metals, a former aluminum smelting plant at 900 Alreco Road.

City building official Chris Nearpass said the plans were given to his office in June. He said he just recently started in that position and didn’t know planning commissioners needed the plans at least two weeks in advance. NoBo officials said the state and the city’s engineers and building department have already approved the site plans.

Mayor Marcus Muhammad, who is on the planning commission, said those people don’t vote. In order to make a vote based on knowledge, he said he needs to see the plans for more than an hour.

City Manager Ellis Mitchell, also on the planning commission, said he’s in a tough position because the mayor is his boss and he didn’t want to vote against the mayor.

He said city staff spent hours making sure the plans meet all requirements.

In the end, he voted with the rest of the planners to table reviewing the site plans until a special meeting at 1 p.m. Monday at Benton Harbor City Hall.

The other plan that was tabled is for more hangers to be built for private airplanes at the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport. Nearpass said that project won’t be started until the spring, so a month’s delay won’t harm the project.

In other business, planning commissioners approved the minutes from a special meeting in May so Cressy Commercial Real Estate can apply to the state for financial incentives to rehabilitate the former Harbor Center at the corner of Pipestone and Main streets.

The minutes weren’t able to be approved earlier due to the lack of a quorum. 

Chairman Lee Reed said planning commissioners will discuss what to do about commissioners who are chronically absent at a future meeting.

Contact:, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege