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March 26, 2019 12:40 am

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Proposed Dune Ridge Development Project Challenged Over Lot Splits, Other Issues

Another development in the Michigan-protected critical dune slopes within the former Presbyterian Camps in Saugatuck is getting some pushback from neighbors.

Among other arguments against the Vine Street Cottages site plan application, critics contend the applicant’s newly created eight-acre parcel has legally no land splits available for the purpose of dividing the land to construct his proposed 10 single-family homes.

Applicant Brad Rottschafter purchased the property from Dune Ridge SA, LP in 2016. The proposed development would consist of a private road off of Vine Street, with homes connected to the public sanitary sewer and watermain systems accessible from Vine Street and extending into the private street.

The Saugatuck Planning Commission tabled the issue at its June 21 meeting, not because they found ordinance issues with the development itself, but cited the need to get more information on the condition of Vine Street and the possible traffic impact resulting from the development.

Given the project would take place within the critical dune area, it also requires Michigan Department of Environmental Quality review and approval.

Some seven neighboring residents were on hand at the June 21 meeting to protest the project, including Gary Medler, Dave and Deb Blandford, Steve Debbink, Marta Peter, Paul Cares, Ruth Johnson and Kim Brewer.

Medler, who lives across from the planned project and is a former attorney, filed documents with the City of Saugatuck maintaining that under the city’s zoning ordinance, Zoning Administrator Cindy Osman had no authority to approve the applicant’s land division application nor authority to determine the number of allowable splits because the Vine Street Cottages parcel is non-platted, it is not a lot in a recorded subdivision.

Osman countered, speaking with The Local Observer Newspapers, that the newest version of the Land Division Act, effective March 31, 1997, dictates that land division requests “go back in time to the parent parcel” to determine how many allowable land splits exist.

The parent parcel, in this case, consists of the 125-acre parcel sold to Dune Ridge for $10 million in 2014 from the Presbytery of Chicago.

“Because of the way the Land Division Act works and the assessment of 125 acres, they (Vine Street Cottages which purchased Dune Ridge land) are exempt from the platting process,” said Osman.

Dune Ridge inherited 15 lot splits from that 125-acre parent parcel of which they have 12 left. Thereby, Vine Street Cottages, which purchased eight acres from Dune Ridge, also inherit the splits rights.

Still, Medler says he is concerned the city may not be adhering to the Land Division Act as it was meant to be applied and further claims the development is actually a planned unit development (PUD), not allowed in that parcel.

In 2015, the City of Saugatuck approved the 21-home luxury division that is Dune Ridge. Many of homesites have been sold, either as lots or houses or as a combo of the two, and they range in price from $2.1 million to $2.7 million.

Saugatuck officials are continuing to review the matter.

Proposed Dune Ridge Development Project Challenged Over Lot Splits, Other Issues

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