Douglas Officials Accuse Peterson Of "Blurring" Issues In Legal Dispute; "They're Confused," He Says
As they prepare to take legal action against him, City of Douglas officials are accusing local marina owner RJ Peterson of blurring the distinction between to separate issues: one being a spoils site project related only to Tower Marine dredging and the other being a possible future expansion of that site for a community-wide dredging project, via the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority.
“He blurs the issues to his advantage,” Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere told the Douglas City Council last week.
LeFevere spoke to a November 20 letter from the city to the marina owner, serving as a response to Peterson’s own notices to the city.
“I am confused about what they are confused about. I don’t know what they are doing,” responded Peterson to the accusation.
According to the city, Tower Marine only received temporary approval in 2012 for a dredge spoils disposal facility with the condition a site plan for handling the material and re-grading be submitted to and approved by the Douglas Planning Commission.
Since then a completed site plan has not been submitted, say officials.
That is one issue and it is precisely the issue that city officials say they are taking Peterson to court over.
The other issue entails a proposal between the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority and the marina owner.
“Under this second scenario, we even discussed the possibility of obtaining a permit from the MDEQ to fill wetlands in the area and utilizing lands belonging to St. Peters Catholic Church with its consent,” says the November 20 letter from the city.
Harbor authority officials say they have grown distrustful over this proposal stating talks with Peterson ended in a stalemate.
As a result, the authority is currently pursuing the possibility of a dredge spoils site on property at the local wastewater treatment plant, an effort that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to accomplish, much more costly than having a facility at the marina.
In a November 5, 2013 memo, Peterson noted, “Completing the spoils site can only be achieved by having the full cooperation of the City of Saugatuck, the City of the Village of Douglas, Tower Marine and the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority.”
Not so, say Douglas officials.
“Although the government units have bent over backwards to attempt to cooperate with you in a community-wide solution to the issues, please understand that the city is currently only looking for a site plan from you addressing the use of the dredge spoils disposal site by Tower Marine, or the first scenario discussed above.”