Michigan marina project near sand dunes gets key permit

SAUGATUCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has given a marina and home development project in the Lake Michigan sand dunes a key permit it needs to move forward.

The department approved a permit for the North Shores of Saugatuck project Friday. The project would build a 1,600-foot-long marina and nearly 40 home sites near the Saugatuck Dunes State Park.

The permit requires that the marina basin be lined with impermeable clay to isolate it from the groundwater system and that five groundwater monitoring wells be installed near the wetlands, said John Bayha, the environmental engineer overseeing the permit application.

Sand removed from the marina must be spread at a site that’s not a wetland or critical dune area, Bayha said. Only native plants will be allowed to be put into the area, so developers won’t be able to put in grassy lawns. Part of the property must also be set aside as a donation to the state park or a permanent conservation easement, he said.

The department also approved the construction of an access roadway around the marina.

The property spanning more than 300 acres once belonged to Oklahoma oil tycoon Aubrey McClendon, who proposed large-scale development that didn’t materialize before his death in March 2016. The project is proposed by the land’s new owner, Jeff Padnos, and development company Cottage Home.

The plans have drawn opposition from area residents and environmentalists. The development could hurt vital wetlands, disturb fish populations and historic resources, and have a negative economic impact, said David Swan, president of the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance.

Cottage Home President Brian Bosgraaf said the project is taking a “conservation-based development” approach.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must still award a permit before construction can begin.

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      • George

        I hope that was sarcasm. Fact is, unless you have money you can’t even get to the lake. A huge body of water owned by a select few. Holland for example, you can’t walk to Big Red. The wealthy have it locked up and blocked off. Try and get to the lake, nothing but fences and private property signs.
        Let hope the army engineers understands the importance of leaving the land natural and refuses the permits. That was EVERYONE can enjoy the beach, not to mention the critters and ecosystem that will be destroyed.

        • Mac Woods

          You’re joking right? Between state parks and county parks, Lake Michigan is easily accessible to anyone who wants to go. Now at what point in the last 121 years has “Big Red” EVER been on public property? People think that since lights such as the one at Grand Haven and Little Sable Point are publically accessible that (by God!) they ALL ought to be. Well, that isn’t how property law works. But Given the dozens of lighthouses in the Great Lakes region which are immediately available to the public, and the aforementioned state & county parks, I’d say get out there and take a drive.