The Benton borders: Parcel of land within the city belongs to the township

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Amid the 4.68 square miles of Benton Harbor is a small patch of land that does not show up among city limits.

Look on a map and the space that ceases to be a part of Benton Harbor is not a sovereign nation. The patch of land on the loop of North McCord Street actually belongs to Benton Township.

Admittedly hard to find, the street is just east of the Paw Paw River and ends on either side of Riverside Avenue and Buena Vista Road – both Benton Harbor roads.

According to Berrien County tax ID files, the small loop that ends before it reaches south to Stevens Street belongs to the township. Even the Zion Temple and the surrounding neighborhood rests along this loop, and thus, the township.

Why the township owns a portion of land within Benton Harbor’s city limits is still unknown.

Neither Township Assessor Toni Swisher or Dan Fette, director of Community Development for Berrien County, know the answer.

Although there are theories.

Fette said the property that was originally in Benton Township – but would later become the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport after being annexed by the city of Benton Harbor – might have left the parcel behind during the annexation.

“We may never know why it’s there, but I’m guessing that during the annexation either that property was inadvertently left out or someone in that area objected to the annexation,” Fette said.

Through county records, the parcel of land in question is also partially owned by the church. Representatives from the Zion Temple could not be reached for comment.

Fette said even the area surrounding the leftover parcel is intriguing.

“The weird thing is there appears to be a plotted subdivision right next to that which was never built,” Fette said. “On the curve of McCord Street, adjacent to that, there are streets laid out. I’m wondering if at the time, there might have been some plans to develop that.”

Despite the confusion, the township takes care of that parcel in the winter. Public Works Director Andy Jordan has said that the loop is plowed regularly by the township.

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

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 30, 2016)


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