Allegan County Circuit Court Judge Gives R.J. Peterson Six Additional Months To Remove Spoils "Volcano"
In what struck some Douglas city officials as a surprise, the Allegan County Circuit Court recently provided Tower Marine owner RJ Peterson six more months to complete the “Peterson Volcano” project that was supposed to be done—via the 2015 legal settlement order—on Nov. 1, 2016.
Before Monday’s regular meeting, City of Douglas officials held a closed session to discuss aspects of what seems to be perpetual litigation with the prominent 90-year-old marina owner who is now offering to sell his 500 deep-water slip marina to the city across the bridge, Saugatuck, following an on-again, off-again possible purchase discussion with Douglas now at a stalemate.
The marina is actually located in Douglas, but Saugatuck could legally purchase it or come to an agreement with its owner to make it a public entity.
“The other six months is not from today, but from November 1, as the fist settlement agreement stipulated, giving Mr. Peterson till May 31,” said Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere.
Douglas was willing to give the marina owner some time, perhaps to the end of February, but was not willing to have that time extended another six months.
Apart from the closed session, Douglas City Council, in a related move, approved a resolution during the regular meeting authorizing the city to take “all actions that may be necessary to complete the relocation of the (Peterson) spoils material in accordance with the Court Order File Number 13-52632-CZ (the 2015 order)”
In other words, if Tower Marine does not complete the job by May 31, the Monday resolution gives the city the power to do it at its own expense, then seek a court order to get monetary compensation from Peterson for having done so.
“This resolution won’t be executed unless of course for some reason Mr. Peterson won’t complete the job,” LeFevere told The Local Observer.
Explaining the nature of the resolution, LeFevere said it is a preemptive move requiring abatement of what city officials consider a nuisance caused by the storage of the dredge spoils at the marina site.
The 2015 settlement ordered Peterson to dramatically reduce the dredge spoils pile at his Tower Marine property by doing grading and abiding by land-use regulations and state environmental standards (besides proposed ongoing dredging, the spoils pile stems from the significant dredging conducted by Tower Marine to accommodate the towing to Canada of the iconic S.S. Keewatin out of where it stood for many years at the shores of Tower Marine).
The S.S. Keewatin was purchased by a developer for its move to Canada as a tourist attraction.
As for Saugatuck officials’ receptivity regarding the marina offer, they say they are serious, even offering Peterson an opportunity to post an escrow with sufficient funds to start the process.
That escrow, they say, would cover costs associated with hiring a consultant or expert to guide the city in exploring a possible purchase.