Singapore Dunes' Reps Tell Township Planning Commission They Would Rather Build Up Than Out
“Our interest—and yours as well—is to conserve large pieces of property in lieu of more intensive, high-density (development) around the marina,” Singapore Dunes, LLC Attorney James Bruinsma told the Saugatuck Township Planning Commission at a special meeting Monday night.
Bruinsma was addressing ongoing issues and questions about the proposed condominium complex and marina where the old Broward Marine facility once stood along the Kalamazoo River.
The Planning Commission took no action Monday after a three-hour meeting in which Singapore Dunes presented a “sketch plan” for a proposed 236-acre Planned Unit Development (PUD).
The development firm wants to erect four condominium buildings, 55 to 60 feet tall and totaling 72 living units. The project calls for parking spaces underneath the buildings, eliminating the need for parking lots.
While the developer sought “a feel” of where the Planning Commission stood regarding the proposed project, commissioners asked the developer for more details and to present a broader picture.
“I have a problem committing to an opinion on this part of the project (the condo complex) until I see the whole project,” said Saugatuck Township Planning Commission Member Dayle Harrison.
Besides the 72-unit condo complex, the developer has thought of erecting a 19-home subdivision at the western-most part of the property, a plan for which the Planning Commission has already giving preliminary approval.
That totals 91 possible housing units with possibly more being proposed on other parts of the 310-acre property owned by gas magnate Aubrey McClendon.
Singapore Dunes also has a permit pending with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for a proposed access road that will traverse critical dune areas.
The few members of the public that spoke at Monday’s meeting expressed concern over the height of the condo buildings and its alleged impact on views, noise, topography, ecology, and so on.
Local resident Jane Dickie, along with some others, was not convinced Singapore Dunes’ pictorial and video presentations provided a realistic rendering of the project.
Dickie cautioned the Planning Commission about “the deception of perception,” alleging “the picture (presented from the point of view of a boat on the Kalamazoo River standing on front of the condo complex) makes it seem as if the Rocky Mountains are behind the buildings.”
Referring to the terrain and the water level cycles, Dickie further maintained the development was at high risk of flooding.
Planning Commission Chair Margaret Conklin concurred when she said, “I agree with you, the flooding is a concern.”
The development entails a Singapore Dunes-proposed “trade off” that the Saugatuck Township Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) previously reviewed and discussed in a thorough matter only to decide the Planning Commission was best suited to decide on that matter.
If the township allows the project to deviate 20 to 25 feet beyond the township’s height restrictions of 35 feet as it relates to the development, Singapore Dunes’ representatives said they will place about 130 acres of duneland, located in the north-central part of the property, in a private conservancy in perpetuity.
In other words, the developer wants to go vertical rather than spread homes on the higher, sensitive duneland areas.
“I like the idea of conservation but the level of conservation is in the details,” said Harrison, adding that horses and ORVs (off-road vehicles) could be a hindrance.
Planning Commission members said they would continue to review the proposal in future meetings.