Residents concerned about proposed dune development in Saugatuck Twp

SAUGATUCK TWP, Mich. -- Discussions to build a private marina and condos on pristine dune land along Lake Michigan drew a full house at Tuesday's Saugatuck Township planning meeting.

The company at the center of the issue is Cottage Homes, which purchased the Denison property last year from Singapore Dunes. The land was once in the works for a controversial development lead by multimillionaire Aubrey McClendon, who died last year.

The plans for the private marina and condos would require the removal of 160,000 tons of sand from the area, something that has residents concerned.

Details and maps of the development can be found on the township's website.

"They talk nicely about a marina with some houses around it," said Jon Helmrich, a Saugatuck Township resident. "But we need the environmental impact statement with the DEQ to really look at this.”

Others also said they wanted to see an environmental impact study be conducted before voting on plans.

“I’d like to see the marina plan ditched," Helmrich said. "I’d like to see no homes on the inlet itself. It’s the last undeveloped river mouth on Lake Michigan, and the south side is preserved as a natural harbor area, so there’s room to build some houses. Don’t get me wrong, but we don’t like them there on the river, which changes the views from the other side, from the garden camp."

"Let’s be a little more reasonable and forward thinking about our environmental picture in general.”

Cottage Homes said when they bought the Denison property they would protect the majority of the 300 acres along the shore.

Aubrey McClendon.

The land has been the subject of a legal tug-of-war for years. McClendon planned to develop 25 lots for houses and condos.

McClendon died in a car crash in Oklahoma last March, just one day after he was federally indicted for rigging bids for the purchase of oil and natural gas leases.

Ultimately, no decisions were made Tuesday about the project. Instead, the board voted to push back a vote until April's meeting.

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