New rules block floating home development in Saugatuck

Allegan County

SAUGATUCK, Mich. (WOOD) — New ordinances approved by the Saugatuck City Council will prevent a Grand Rapids developer from putting in floating home rentals proposed for a marina.

The planned development for small floating home rentals near the landing to Saugatuck’s popular Chain Ferry drew strong criticism from neighbors concerned about pedestrian safety, parking, noise and sanitation.

Jane Underwood, a resident of Saugatuck, spoke in public comment at the meeting.

“That corner is a nightmare,” Underwood said. “With cars going to the beach. Nobody stops at the stop sign coming down from Oval Road. People getting off the ferry.”

A sign protesting floating home rentals for a marina in Saugatuck. (July 26, 2021)

The new regulations define what a floating home is and creates criteria to differentiate it from a houseboat:

Marinas must have a permit if they want to allow floating homes, the home itself has to have a license before it is put in, each home must have two parking spaces, along with other sanitation and safety requirements.

Homes will be limited to three marina districts that have full-service operations. This would not include the area near the Chain Ferry, which was proposed for the development.

While some residents see this as a victory, others feel it opens the city to potential litigation from the developer. They say existing zoning regulations could be used to keep floating homes from the city.

News 8 reached out to the developer for comment on the new ordinances but has not received a response.

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