Allegan County Circuit Court Judge Upholds Saugatuck's Denial Of Developer's Marina Bathroom Plan
The high-end Dunegrass Development, just south of Oval Beach, is now complete along with infrastructure. It is now also making progress on its marina and marina-related project that is the seawall on the Kalamazoo River.
However, the developer’s plan for a marina bathroom is a different story.
Allegan County 48th Circuit Court Judge Kevin W. Cronin, on April 5, upheld the Saugatuck City Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) denial of the developer’s request for dimensional variances for their planned marina bathroom facility at the site.
“Based upon the entire record, the Court concludes that the ZBA decision is supported by substantial, material and competent evidence. Appellant (Dunegrass) failed to adequately show ‘practical difficulties’ or to convince the ZBA that Appellant was unnecessarily burdened.
“The ZBA’s decision reflects a thoughtful and proper exercise of the discretion vested in that body,” court documents show.
“We don’t know yet what is going to be our next course of action. We are looking at possible options for appealing the court’s decision,” developer and Dunegrass Project Manager David Barker told The Local Observer Newspapers.
The city approved the 21-home luxury division in 2015. About half the homesites have been sold, either as lots or houses or as a combo of the two, and they range from $2.1 million to $2.7 million, according to Barker.
The 350-acre property was formerly the Saugatuck Presbyterian Camp, purchased by the Dune Ridge SA LP private equity firm (Dunegrass) for $10 million in 2014.
As for the 38-foot-length waterfront marina on Park Street, just south the Saugatuck Chain Ferry’s west side landing area, it is meant for the private use of Dunegrass residents.
It calls for, among other features, six boat slips, one boathouse, four golf cart parking spaces within the property, and three car parking spaces in the public right-of-way.
The related 100-foot seawall has received the green light from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, while the marina bathroom was denied by the ZBA on 2016, rejecting the developer’s request for a dimensional setback variance for a 144-square-foot bathroom and wet bar structure on the east side of Park Street that would have served the new development.
Dunegrass appealed the ZBA decision, claiming the city was in violation of its own ordinances.
Since the beginning of the marina discussion, Saugatuck city officials were puzzled on how the developer would be able to fit so much on what they deemed to be a small chunk of land.
Of particular concern was that the marina would not meet the appropriate legally required setbacks of buildings from the roadway and property lines.
“We’ve gotten approval for piers and docks. The only thing we can’t build at this point is the bathroom,” said Barker.