Saugatuck

A musician who was jailed last summer for refusing to stop playing his guitar on a sidewalk is suing the city of Saugatuck in federal court.

The city says the sidewalks are too packed in the summer to allow unrestricted entertainment. Musicians can play in city parks without permits.

Lindsey Smith/Michigan Radio

SAUGATUCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Construction is expected to begin in the coming months on an access road across part of the Lake Michigan shoreline for 18 home sites.

The Grand Rapids Press reports that Singapore Dunes LLC says it has received permission from the state Department of Environmental Quality to build the two-lane blacktop in Allegan County's Saugatuck Township.

 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A controversial development that’s proposed on 300 acres of critical duneland in Saugatuck is likely to get the state permit it needs to get the project rolling. The parcel has been at the center of a years-long legal battle.

On today's show, we took a look at key election results from around the state, from marijuana to gay rights. How did you vote?  And what's the take away from Election 2013?

Then, we spoke with Michigan singer-songwriter Stewart Franke as he takes us inside his battle with leukemia.

And, we talked Michigan beer. A new film looks at the craft beer scene in our state.

First on the show, it has been quite a journey for a candidate who got booted off the primary ballot, was going to fold his tent and walk away, then was urged to mount a write-in campaign, swept the primary and today, is the new Mayor-Elect of Detroit.

Mike Duggan has become Detroit's first white mayor in 40 years, beating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek has covered the Duggan campaign and was at the victory party last night. She joined us today.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

We turn now to the West Side of the state.

That's where Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith has been following a ballot proposal calling for the merger of Saugatuck and Douglas, two smaller cities just south of Holland.

Lindsey Smith joined us today to talk about what the voters said.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Detroit could have its first white mayor in 40 years

"A former write-in candidate once thought to have little chance of surviving Detroit's primary election is favored to become the city's first white mayor in 40 years. Former health care executive Mike Duggan is leading the polls over Wayne County sheriff Benny Napoleon," the Associated Press reports

Three cities vote on easing marijuana laws

"Voters in three Michigan cities have a chance to give some legal protection to users of small amounts of marijuana. Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing would ignore possession of an ounce or less of marijuana on private property. People must be at least 21 years old," the Associated Press reports.

Cities of Saugatuck and Douglas could merge

Voters in the two west Michgian cities could vote to turn Saugatuck and Douglas into one town.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters in the neighboring Michigan cities of Saugatuck and Douglas have a big decision to make in tomorrow’s election. The tourist towns on the shores of Lake Michigan could become a single city.

If you live in Saugatuck or Douglas, there’s no way you can avoid the touchy conversation about consolidation. Campaign signs tell voters to “Save our towns” or “We’re better together.”

Even the kids on the playground have opinions.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Many people are asking the state to consider paying millions of dollars for a few hundred acres of land in Saugatuck. The land is sandwiched between Saugatuck State Park and a nearly 200-acre nature preserve.

Community leaders tried to buy the property a few years ago. They were outbid by a wealthy businessman. After a years-long legal battle over development rights, the property was listed for sale this month.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

After years of legal wrangling over development rights, energy giant Aubrey McClendon has put a huge property up for sale in Saugatuck. The 300-acre parcel includes coastal dunes near Lake Michigan.

McClendon bought the land in 2006 for about $40 million. He spent millions on engineers, architects, designers; and then battling Saugatuck Township in court for the right to develop the land.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new study from an independent research group shows taxpayers in the cities of Douglas and Saugatuck could save more than half a million dollars a year if the local governments merged.

Eric Lupher is Director of Local Affairs for the independent Citizens Research Council of Michigan. He authored the study on a potential merger of city governments in Saugatuck and Douglas. You can read the full report on the CRC’s website.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Soon people living in the lakeshore cities of Saugatuck and Douglas will vote on a proposed merger of their local governments. The State Boundary Commission ruled today the question should be on the ballot in August or November.

A citizens group began the process to merge in 2011. The Consolidated Government Committee is pushing for the merger to save taxpayer money.

Matt Balmer / Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities

A group that’s against a proposed merger of two cities in West Michigan turned in more than enough signatures today to put the question before voters.

About 2,000 people live in the neighboring cities of Saugatuck and Douglas.

Matt Balmer is a spokesperson the Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities. The group collected 342 signatures in the past few weeks.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

SAUGATUCK, Mich. (AP) - The proposed merger of Saugatuck and Douglas in Allegan County seems likely to be headed to a ballot.

88 signatures are needed. The Grand Rapids Press says the petition already has been signed by more than 300 residents in the two small cities. The deadline to get the names to Lansing is Feb. 19.

Groups on both sides of the issue already have formed. Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities questions whether there would be significant savings in a merger. Supporters say the savings could be $500,000 a year.

Republican state Representative Bob Genetski
Photo courtesy of Rep. Genetski's office

State Representative Bob Genetski will serve no jail time for his drunken driving conviction handed down last month.

The Republican from Saugatuck will have to complete 40 hours of community service. He’ll also have to pay fines and court fees.

Genetski was pulled over for driving while intoxicated in January by a Michigan State Police officer. His blood alcohol level was .08 an hour and a half after his arrest.

A jury found him guilty last month.

The maximum penalty would have been 93 days in jail. It could also come with up to 360 hours of community service, and a maximum $500 fine.

Jail time is unusual for first-time offenders.

An Oklahoma energy executive is submitting his plans for a new development on 300 acres near Lake Michigan in Saugatuck. Aubrey McClendon owns the development Singapore Dunes LLC.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people showed up for a public hearing in Saugatuck Wednesday night. Most spoke against the proposed plan to merge the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas.

Travis Randolph is with the group that’s behind the idea. He hopes a state commission will decide the proposal is reasonable enough to put before voters.

"The ultimate poll is an election and that’s all we’re trying to get to. So that everybody can have a say. And in the process of getting to the election, you have to go through dealing with those people who have emotional connection to the present, not to the future,” Randolph said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A federal judge has signed off on a long-standing legal dispute between Saugatuck Township and Oklahoma energy executive Aubrey McClendon. The case revolves around the potential development of 300 acres of land McClendon owns that includes critical dunes near Lake Michigan.

Tom Dailey / Creative Commons

The state has rescheduled a public hearing on the proposed consolidation of the cities of Douglas and Saugatuck. The hearing was set for later this month. But the state pushed it back to next month because notice of the hearing wasn’t mailed out at least 30 days prior.

Local leaders were upset the original public meeting was scheduled at a smaller venue in the middle of a workday anyway. It's now been rescheduled for 4p.m. June 20thinside the Saugatuck High School gymnasium.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The picturesque west Michigan towns of Saugatuck and Douglas have taken another step toward becoming the picturesque city of Saugatuck-Douglas.

A state commission decided a proposal to merge the two into one city met enough legal requirements to move to the next step.    

Merger supporters say it will save money.

“Our studies have shown that we could save a million dollars annually through just the simple unification of the governments into one unity," says Bobbie Gaunt, with the Consolidated Government Committee, which is pushing the merger proposal.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week there will be an important hearing for those hoping to merge three West Michigan communities. A group of citizens is asking the state to allow the cities of Saugatuck, Douglas and Saugatuck Township to merge into one city. 

A federal judge will consider another proposed settlement in a legal case between Saugatuck Township and a private developer. The township approved the proposed settlement Wednesday night.

Lawyers for Saugatuck Township have reached an agreement to resolve an expensive legal case with a private developer. The case is between the township and a billionaire who owns about 300 acres of property.

The land in dispute includes natural dunes on the Lake Michigan shore. The developer says the township has unfairly restrictive zoning laws for his property. The proposed settlement would reverse to the original zoning that’s less restrictive.

Under the plan, the developer would ask for a zoning variance from the zoning board of appeals. The township’s attorney Ron Bultje says the developer may ask for a variance “to essentially develop the property in the manner that was shown on the development plan last summer.” That plan included a marina and a hotel.

The township will hold a public hearing on the proposed agreement next week.

Some people in Saugatuck Township are pushing township officials to review its zoning laws to resolve an expensive legal case with a private developer.

Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon owns more than 300 acres in the township, including coastal dune land along Lake Michigan. McClendon says Saugatuck Township officials adopted unfairly restrictive zoning laws for his property.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Officials in Saugatuck tonight will discuss their options in a federal case between the township and a private developer who wants to build on 300 acres near Lake Michigan coastal dunes.

Last July Saugatuck Township voted to accept a settlement with the billionaire developer. The settlement would have allowed a 25-suite hotel, limited retail space and other development plans on his 300 acres along the Lake Michigan shore.

But in November a federal judge in Grand Rapids rejected the settlement because he said it violated state zoning laws. The judge also ruled it didn’t resolve any of the developer’s claims that the township unfairly re-zoned his property.

Tonight the township board will meet with its attorney for the first time since the last federal court action in November. The meeting is not open to the public and it’s unclear if the board will make any decisions tonight.

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan

The City of Saugatuck has taken ownership of nearly 173-acres of dune land on the shores of Lake Michigan. A coalition of conservationists and foundations has worked for more than 6 years to buy the property from a private developer.

This story has been updated: An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested that development was prohibited on all 300 acres of the property. The story below has been updated to make the requirement for special permits more clear.

A federal judge has thrown out a proposed legal settlement between Saugatuck Township and a private developer looking to build near Lake Michigan coastal dunes.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A group of citizens will hand over hundreds of signatures Wednesday to petition the State of Michigan to allow three West Michigan communities to merge.

Travis Randolph lives in Saugatuck Township. He chairs the Consolidated Government Committee that’s asking the state to consider merging the township with the Cities of Saugatuck and Douglas. Together, the three local units of government serve a little more 5,000 people.

(courtesy of National Weather Service, Wilmington, NC)

Search efforts continue for two swimmers who were caught up Tuesday in rip currents off the coast of Saugatuck.     Lake Michigan’s eastern shore has seen strong rip currents this week. 

U.S. Coast Guard petty officer Lauren Jorgenson  says people swimming in the Great Lakes should be aware of the danger of currents that can pull swimmers away from the beach.  

Norm Hoekstra / Creative Commons

Three non-profit organizations are asking a federal judge to let them weigh in on a proposed settlement between a private developer and Saugatuck Township.  Both parties have agreed to the deal, but a federal judge must approve it. The agreement would resolve a longstanding land-use case.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A federal judge still has to approve a settlement between a private developer and Saugatuck Township to resolve a long-standing land-use case. But there is already talk of a new lawsuit at the state level if the federal judge approves the agreement.

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