Aubrey McClendon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Saugatuck Township officials have agreed to settle a land-use case with a billionaire who’s trying develop property along Lake Michigan. Saugatuck Township voted Friday night to accept a legal settlement with Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon. The proposal settles a land-use dispute between the two.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The township is seeking public input on a proposed legal settlement with a billionaire looking to develop property along the Lake Michigan shore.

The public hearing will have to be rescheduled since police shut it down before anyone got a chance to speak. More than 400 people tried to fit into a space that holds half that.

“This was not a good venue to do this,” Saugatuck-Douglas Police Chief Ken Giles said.

Norm Hoekstra / Creative Commons

A proposed deal would allow a smaller scale development along the Lake Michigan shore. Aubrey McClendon owns more than 300 acres north of where the Kalamazoo River empties into Lake Michigan. He wants to build a marina, condos, houses, and a golf course there.

McClendon argues Saugatuck Township officials unfairly singled him out because they banned any development on the property without special permits. So he sued them in federal court.

Joe Gratz / Flickr

Monday a federal judge in Kalamazoo will hear arguments in a case that pits Saugatuck Township against a billionaire looking to develop his property that includes coastal dunes along Lake Michigan.

Aubrey McClendon owns more than 300 acres north of where the Kalamazoo River empties into Lake Michigan. He wants to build a marina, condos, houses, and a golf course there.

Township officials have to approve special zoning for him to develop his property. McClendon’s attorney Jim Bruinsma says the officials are biased against his client.

“We contend that we have been unfairly singled out for unique zoning restrictions and really unfair procedures.”

Bruinsma alleges the township worked illegally with an environmental group to restrict development and fund the township’s legal defense.

Saugatuck Township officials deny they’ve done anything illegal. They’re attorney Craig Noland is asking the judge to dismiss the case, forcing McClendon to go through normal zoning procedures. 

“Our position is that they should be required like any other citizen to file an application and allow the township to consider the application and make a decision.”

Noland says Saugatuck Township’s attorney township officials are prepared to handle McClendon’s zoning request fairly and transparently.