MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A development that includes 200 to 300 homes next to a historic dune-front neighborhood is being described as bringing the future of Muskegon.
But neighbors say the plans will destroy the ecology and the quality of life for this community with roots that go back more than 150 years. The little neighborhood named Bluffton is situated on a peninsula between Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan, built when the Sand Products company mined the surrounding dunes down.
The remaining dunes are referred to as Pigeon Hill.
The neighborhood has homes that date back to the mid-1800s and was a playground for silent film star Buster Keaton.
Now, the same company that mined sand out of the dunes is proposing a multi-use development that would include commercial, parks and as many as 300 housing units.
“It’s definitely not an easy one to develop but from our standpoint, it’s an important component of the future of Muskegon,” said Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson.
But neighbors have formed registered neighborhood association, which is working against this development that they say will wreck both the character of the neighborhood and the Pigeon Hill nature they cherish.
“It’s the classic developer versus environmentalist struggle,” said Larry Page, president of the Pigeon Hill Alliance.
The developers have been buying land and have gotten approval from the DNR to put a road through that would connect to the roads going through this neighborhood. The association is appealing the decision.
“All the traffic from this development will go on to that one two-lane road. It’s just not a good situation,” Page said.
Page says the development will put a road through a critical dune to connect the development to the neighborhood streets. The DNR approved the road, but the group is planning an appeal.
The developers and city planners say having the streets in the development connect to existing streets gives the existing neighborhood the benefits of the new development. The new development becomes part of the legacy neighborhood rather than separate from it.
But the neighbors say the natural environment will be destroyed by the massive development.
“It’s not public open space nor was it ever open public space, it was always private land that at some point would be developed,” Peterson said.
But for neighbors, it’s simple.
“We’d rather not see any development down here,” Page said.
Peterson says this area is ripe for development and it is amazing to him it was developed decades ago.
The plan for the neighborhood alliance is to do what they can to stall the development.
“Maybe we can get them to decide that there’s so many negatives that go along with this development that they’d be better off stopping the development, donating the land and taking the tax write-off,” Page said.
The issue was slated to be on the Muskegon Planning Planning Commission agenda Thursday, but the CEO of development company MiCOAST properties, Scott Musselman, pulled it from consideration saying the company wanted to address neighbor concerns.