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Berrien Springs sees new development, rules tighten up

“We want buildings to be safe here, we don’t want to have any issues with things that shouldn’t be happening,” said Milt Richter, Village of Berrien Springs Village President.

One goal – that’s what the Village of Berrien Springs is focused on after Monday night’s council meeting to help attract more businesses downtown. Over the last 5 years, Berrien Springs has undergone two phases of new infrastructure.

“The first thing we had to do is get our streets and infrastructure in order, you can’t have businesses if you have street with gigantic holes. The second thing was our schools,” said Richter.

So far, Richter says three new businesses have opened in the last couple of months.

“And we got a possible four then fifth and a sixth and we’re working with those people to get their developments going,” said Richter.

But the village is tightening up on the process. We’re told that in the past, some new business owners haven’t bothered getting a permit before building. The village had to come in and shut them down. But on top of that headache, it landed some entrepreneurs with a hefty cost.

“We’ve had to shut them down which delays their project and it costs them more because you have to go back and redo stuff that you didn’t do right in the first place,” said Richter.

The newest business owner on Ferry Street, Pat Geiger and her daughter Wendy say it’s also a hefty process to open up shop.

“We were surprised at the permits that we needed and we were glad we did the research,” said Pat Geiger, Owner of The Salt Haven.

But her goal was to be part of the new development process in town.

“Our idea was to bring a big-city idea to a small town and we’re hoping that this will spark other interests and other people will follow suit,” said Geiger.

With some advice for other potential business owners.

“Makin sure that you have all the permits, right down to the health department, just make sure that you’ve done your homework,” said Geiger.

Richter says the process is simple; If you plan on building or remodeling, have the building inspector look at the prints and approve them because that inspector will be checking to make sure it’s up to code.

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