SAUGATUCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Conservationists have launched a new effort to stop an embattled development near Saugatuck Dunes State Park.
The Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance, the Gun Lake Tribe of the Pottawatomi and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi have appealed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s approval of a plan to build a private marina at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River. The groups say the development would require movement of dunes that constitutes “sand mining,” which they say is against state law.
The conservation group also sued the development, NorthShore of Saugatuck, saying it knowingly broke local zoning laws.
“I would say certainly local zoning says in no event can a canal or channel be excavated for the purpose of increasing one’s water frontage. That’s black and white,” Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance President David Swan said Monday. ” I would also say … it’s clearly sand dune mining. The threshold for sand dune mining is 3,000 tons. (The developer) is looking to remove 200,000 tons. That is a staggering difference.”
The 309-acre dunes property has been at the center of controversy for years, first when it belonged to late billionaire Aubrey McClendon and now under the ownership of Holland-based Cottage Home, which is headed up by developer Brian Bosgraaf and backed by Jeff Padnos of Padnos Iron and Metal Co. In addition to the marina, the developers want to put up several single-family homes and condominiums at the site.
Opponents have long said that any development and removal of sand would be detrimental to the local ecosystem and historic area.
The Saugatuck Dunes Coast Alliance is asking for donations through a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for its fight against the marina.
>>App users: Photos of the proposed development