Sunday, November 25, 2012

More on McClendon, planning commission

The Saugatuck Township Planning Commission discusses a proposed development by Aubrey McClendon on Monday, Nov. 19.

Saugatuck Township Planning Commission members decided on Monday that they needed more time to consider the site condominium proposal from Aubrey McClendon’s Singapore Dunes LLC to build 25 homes in duneland north of the Kalamazoo River, saying the development is one of the most complex proposed in the township.

To read the story, visit

Here are some more points from the almost 4-hour meeting:

Spokesmen for the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance made it clear why they believe the proposal should be denied by planners.

“The plan as submitted is deficient, simply put,” said Shawn Seymour of LSL Planning, Inc., of Grand Rapids.

• It lacks enough open space: Development in the R-3B zone where the homes are using private wells and septic systems requires 35 percent open space and the plan allots 5 percent;

• Mooring boats on the seawall is, in fact, a marina. Such a use would require a separate application and a special approval use from the commission;

• The development has one access point from 135th Street. An “internal loop road or other means” should be incorporated into the plan;

• The plan needs state and regulatory agency input on wetlands, critical dunes and endangered species.

“This is the one and only chance to look at the entirety of the development,” said Scott Howard, attorney from Olson, Bzdok & Howard of Traverse City. “You don’t get a second shot at it.”

For more on the dunes group, visit

Saugatuck Township planning consultant Mark Sisson, left, and township attorney Ron Bultje listen to discussion on Monday, Nov. 19, at a Saugatuck Township Planning Commission meeting at Laketown Township Hall.

 Attorney James Bruinsma of Myers Nelson Dillon & Shierk of Grand Rapids, who represents Singapore Dunes LLC, responded to the issues:

• There is no open space requirement in the R-3B zone because it is in the critical dunes overlay district. Township attorney Ron Bultje of Scholten Fant of Grand Haven agreed, saying the open space rules do not apply in a critical dune area because of the large lot sizes.

• The mooring of boats along the seawall has been going on for years. “We’re just continuing what’s been done there,” said Hank Byma, landscape architect for the project.

• The consent agreement that ended the 2-year-old lawsuit in federal court allows a single access road for the development. There is a well and pump station for fire suppression. The Saugatuck Township Fire District is looking over the road plans, according to Al Ellingsen, township zoning administrator.

• The issues of wetlands, critical dunes and endangered species are handled at the state level, outside the township’s authority. “There is a process — and it happens at the state level,” said Bruinsma. The developer needs the preliminary plans approved before going to the state to get the environmental issues addressed, he said.

The planning commission would be giving preliminary approval to the application, not a final OK, Bruinsma said. Changes to the plan would have to come back to planners for approval.

For more on the development, visit

Other anecdotes:

• One resident asked the planners about street lights and the impact of them on the view around the development. No street lights are planned for the area, Byma said.

Dayle Harrison talks to the planning commission Nov. 19.
• You know it’s going to be along meeting when it takes the planning commission almost 40 minutes to approve its minutes from a previous meeting.

Commissioner Dayle Harrison wanted to make sure his objections to being recused from discussion on McClendon’s proposals was reflected in the minutes. He read a letter to his fellow commissioners then moved it be added into the minutes. No one seconded the motion, so it went nowhere. After more discussion, Harrison’s letter was made an addendum to the minutes.

For more on the recusal, visit

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