Questions & Confusion Arise At Saugatuck City Council Meeting Over Dune Ridge
Several local citizens, including some city officials and those party to the lawsuits, expressed confusion about the combining of a legal agreement with a developer’s recent application that came before the Saugatuck City Council at its Monday night’s meeting.
Dune Ridge SA, LP, is requesting it be allowed to build 13 additional single-family homesites at the former Saugatuck Presbyterian Camps on 32.9 acres, via a planned unit development (PUD).
A consent judgment, with origins going back two years and now before the Allegan County Circuit Court, would, if approved, settle two different lawsuits against the city: one advanced by the Shorewood Association (represented by spokesperson and real estate attorney Keith Walker) and the other by Gary E. Medler.
Those two parties previously sued the city over its approval of an earlier Dune Ridge application for eight home sites on 22.7 acres with frontage at Lake Michigan.
“You are holding my property hostage for something that has nothing to do with me,” said Dune Ridge representative Paulus Heule, investor and development manager with the firm Eenhoorn LLC.
Visibly upset, Heule and business partner David Barker, the Dune Ridge developer, informed city officials they had been taken by surprise at the city’s decision to incorporate the consent judgment into their planned unit development (PUD) request.
“If you approve this PUD with the consent judgment, you are telling Mr. Medler and Mr. Walker, ‘You guys are in control,’” said Heule.
Dune Ridge was not originally a party to either lawsuits. Barker told The Local Observer the land firm joined the city as a defendant in the Shorewood Association lawsuit to “help the city.”
Still, Heule said he was not at all opposed to working out a consent judgment with all parties, but it had to be a different and separate matter than his building application.
Saugatuck City Attorney Crystal Morgan (of the Grand Rapids-based law firm Bloom Sluggett Morgan, P.C.) was on hand Monday. She told the council “the PUD is part of the consent judgment itself.”
Asked to clarify, she told the newspaper Tuesday, “Contrary to what was presented last night, the attorneys for all parties, including Dune Ridge, were involved in the preparation of the consent judgment and last week all parties approved it and requested that it be presented to the city council for consideration (as part and parcel of the PUD).
“This morning (Tuesday, June 9), the parties requested that the same consent judgment be presented to the city council for approval at an upcoming special meeting, contrary to the council’s instructions last night.”
A special meeting was scheduled to be held Wednesday (June 10) at 4 p.m. at Saugatuck City Hall to further discuss the issues. The Local Observer will report on the outcome of that meeting in its next edition.
Language of the consent judgment has been moving in and out of the PUD. Previously, the consent judgment was first part of the Saugatuck Planning Commission-approved PUD back in April.
But at a special public hearing last week, a proposed amended version of the PUD eliminated the language that would have made an approval contingent on the consent judgments, much to the disappointment of Walker, a real estate attorney and president and spokesperson of Shorewood Association.
However, the PUD presented before the Saugatuck City Council on Monday did include the consent judgment.
Both the Shorewood Association and Medler opposed the construction of a water line along Perryman Street, claiming it would pose environmental damage to the duneland area there, including the Oval Beach entrance.
Medler has maintained the PUDs are not allowed under the existing city zoning ordinances as it relates to that specific land, now zoned as Conservation, Recreation and Camp District.