Saugatuck Township Planning Commission Hears From Developer, Environmentalists, Public On New North Shores Of Saugatuck Development Project
Area residents and an environmental conservationist warned Saugatuck Township officials to proceed with caution and “not kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” the former 304-acre McClendon property, during Tuesday’s full house planning commission meeting.
While critics of the proposed North Shores of Saugatuck, LLC development are much more hopeful for an outcome more to their liking than the previous proposal by past owner Singapore Dunes, the late natural gas magnate Aubrey McClendon’s land firm, they still have many misgivings.
“I am uncomfortable with the piecemeal land development proposal,” said Teresa O’Brien during public comments. “We would really want an update of the overall concept of this.”
It was a notion that resonated with others including the Saugatuck Township Planning Commission, which seemed to heed that and other warnings from the public and tabled two North Shores of Saugatuck, LLC, preliminary requests.
Still, the planning commission’s tabling had to do more with seeking more information than outright rejection of the preliminary proposal advanced by the developer.
Overall, the developer seeks to build 40 homes on different clusters on the property, mostly houses fronting water along Lake Michigan and the Kalamazoo River.
However, Tuesday’s meeting only dealt with the Harbor Cluster and the Commercial Cluster.
The former is a request for 23 residential single-family home lots surrounding a boat basin—proposed to be carved out at the very site where Broward Boats Works operated for two decades—all to be on 95 acres.
The planning commission postponed this request asking North Shores to come back with a better demarcation of the planned unit development (PUD) boundaries, more information on the open space, and treat it as a “site condo” designation, which would require more public hearings.
Planners also tabled the developer’s Commercial Cluster request to rezone 17 acres on the eastern part of it’s parcel fronting 135th Avenue and Blue Star Highway, next to the Saugatuck Dunes Rides, from the designation of riverside residential to general commercial.
Cottage Home President and Designer Brian Bosgraaf reiterated his and financial backers Padnos Iron and Metal Co. President Jeff Padnos and wife Peg’s pledge to preserve as much of the natural features of the property as possible.
“The idea is to have the natural features be the amenity,” Bosgraaf told audience members and the planning commission, discarding ideas for such things as golf courses and tennis courts.
He said his company was privy to the plans of Singapore Dunes.
“We didn’t particularly like the plans they were proposing. We kept our distance,” he said.
Local realtor Dick Waskin was the lone vocal supporter of the project, warning the planning commission against “altruistic” intentions. “The township is under a consent agreement…your hands are tied to an extent. You have to abide by your guidelines you have before you.”
Speaking on behalf of the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance, David Swan read from a proposed statement, when he said, in part, “This evening I want to remind this commission, the new property owner, the media, and the citizens gathered here of the long-standing history of conservation in the neighborhood where Cottage Home is proposing a gated community and marina development.”
He went on to note that in August 2016 there was a public-private partnership effort to acquire the McClendon property for a university-affiliated research facility, but that offer “was rejected by Mr. McClendon’s attorney—the attorney who repeated (sic) filed suit against Saugatuck Township in an attempt to overturn locally-determined zoning that was an obstacle to this vision for houses along the beach, the channel, and a marina development where Broward Boats Works operated for about twenty years.”
North Shores bought the parcel for an undisclosed purchase price from its former owners on Jan. 30, 2017 from Singapore Dune, which had listed it with Sotherby’s for $40 million.