dunes

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.

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.

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.

Updated 12:30p.m. 1/31/12

90-acres of land along the Lake Michigan shore were donated nearly a century ago to the City of Benton Harbor for public recreation. In 2008, city leaders agreed to lease 22 acres of Jean Klock Park to a non-profit developer known as Harbor Shores. The developer converted the land into 3 holes of a Jack Nicklaus golf course.

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.

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.