Benton Township wedding venue gets special permit

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Christania Waggoner got the special use permit she needs Tuesday to operate her proposed wedding venue.

Benton Township trustees unanimously approved the permit application after spending a few minutes looking over the site plans for any last-minute questions. Stonegate Manor, which sits on 6.5 acres, will now operate as a wedding venue at 2251 Riverside Road.

Former Berrien County Trial Court Judge Thomas Nelson was present Tuesday alongside Waggoner as one of the three partners for Stonegate Manor.

“It’s been a long process, I’ll say that,” Nelson said after the meeting. “I’m pleased it has passed the Township Board. Now we will move forward and submit our plans to contractors because we want to capture some of the business for the wedding season coming up.”

A special use permit was required because the property is zoned agricultural, which normally under the permitted uses in agricultural zoning would not allow this type of venue. The property had been the home of a House of David Museum under its previous owner.

There won’t be major construction as the developers plan on using the current buildings. Improvements will be on the inside of the reception hall, which covers 3,600 square feet – when excluding outdoor seating. The property is bounded by a stone fence at the front along Riverside Road.

John Olson, president of Merritt Engineering, told trustees the Berrien County Road and Drain commissions had already been contacted about the property.

“We have verbal approval from the Road Commission. All they want is to square the driveway so they are at right angles to Riverside Road. The Drain Commission wants a little swale for the water to soak in the ground. Your police chief and fire chief have gone out there and driven through it and are OK with the plan as well.”

Other agenda items

Trustees scheduled a police auction to be held April 30. Clerk Carolyn Phillips said the auction will include impounded cars and other confiscated material the police no longer have room to store.

Phillips said the township tries to hold a police auction each year. However, she said the police department held it’s last one two years ago.

The board passed a resolution of support for the Phase I development of the Watervliet County Park. The park project was developed by the Berrien County Parks Commission in 2014 to connect various township and cities through the Paw Paw River Water Trail.

The resolution approved by trustees shows the township supports the Park Commission and its endeavor to secure the grant request from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 17, 2016)


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