Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

GRDadof3

Saugatuck Dunes Fight

26 posts in this topic

Anyone been keeping up on this? For or against the developer's plans?

In case you don't know, Seattle Supersonics owner and Billionaire Aubrey McClendon bought land in Saugatuck commonly known as "the Denison family property" in 2004, which includes 412 acres of pristine dune-land, Lake Michigan frontage, and spans both the North and South sides of the Kalamazoo River inlet. He had planned to develop the property into as many as 275 multi-million dollar homes and a new community marina. He has now pledged to just develop the Northern portion of the property with potentially only 75 - 80 homes, a community marina, possibly in a "village layout", and might lease the Southern 160 acres to the city of Saugatuck. Apparently McClendon is trying to acquire as much as 45 acres surrounding his property.

Today the city tabled the rezoning, despite warnings of lawsuits from the developer's side and a recommendation not to do so by the city's attorney:

http://blog.mlive.com/grpress/2007/12/dune...on_delayed.html

2124244895_2a7cc0350e_o.jpg

Map of Saugatuck

More background here:

Dunes battle pits Billionaire, preservationists

I think the developer should hire a firm like DPZ (Duany Plater-Zyberk), the forefathers of New Urbanism who actually understand it, and develop a village concept on a small portion of the land. Connect it to downtown Saugatuck via bike/walking trails, and leave the large majority of it undeveloped. I think if they showed Saugatuck residents something like this that would just go on part of the land:

http://www.eastbeachnorfolk.com/

(minus retail as to not draw retail dollars away from Saugatuck)

he'd probably get more support. I think people are afraid of another Bay Harbor, which drastically changed the Petoskey area:

2124287269_8a4f7c33d4_o.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


"I would rather die than see such beautiful property developed," Wiley said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was reading about this for a while last night. If I read that blog right, he wants to lease the southern land to Saugatuck, FOR FREE, and then he wants to put 80 houses on 260 acres to the north. That sounds like an ok agreement to me. I think they'd want to negotiate the lease terms first (i.e.: 999 years).

Really, it sounds like the locals want 0 houses on the property and that's not really practical.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was reading about this for a while last night. If I read that blog right, he wants to lease the southern land to Saugatuck, FOR FREE, and then he wants to put 80 houses on 260 acres to the north. That sounds like an ok agreement to me. I think they'd want to negotiate the lease terms first (i.e.: 999 years).

Really, it sounds like the locals want 0 houses on the property and that's not really practical.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it true that at one point the preservationists had raised enough money to buy this property, only to be outbid by a million dollars, by this prick?

I am all for the idea of developing in traditional town way, by hiring DPZ to do the design, but let's get real, this land should not be developed at all. It should be conserved, as is, forever. And DPZ is not, necessarily the silver bullet, they have done single use golf course and resort communities, albeit more beautiful than most, but certainly not in the vane of townbuilding. That is what would end up here. A bunch of big expensive houses with a private marina--maybe even gated. And the trade off would be the loss of this land.

Buying into his "free" lease is a compromise that just doesn't cut it. We are not talking about a regulated wetland in a farm field (that was once a drain) or even riverbank land. This is, I think, a critical dune area along Lake Michigan. These Lake Michigan dunescapes are one of the upper echeleon natural enviroments in our state, maybe even more important than our forest preserves. Some of the most pristine natural environments around. To develop this at all is sickening.

This ultimately leads back to improper zoning and masterplanning. This land should have never been zoned or masterplanned for anything other than conservation. This fight would not be happening if it had been dealt with properly in the past.

Again, absolutely sickening. Why doesn't he just stay in Dallas or wherever craphole he calls home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it true that at one point the preservationists had raised enough money to buy this property, only to be outbid by a million dollars, by this prick?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes, I heard/saw that on the news last night. It was said that they raised $38.5 million dollars to purchase the property and the current owner raised his bid $1 million higher to get the land.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If I read that blog right, he wants to lease the southern land to Saugatuck, FOR FREE, and then he wants to put 80 houses on 260 acres to the north. That sounds like an ok agreement to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


The only reason I brought up Bay Harbor is because a lot of opponents have said they "don't want another Bay Harbor". :) I think they probably don't want a bunch of obnoxious gazillionaires taking over the village.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it true that at one point the preservationists had raised enough money to buy this property, only to be outbid by a million dollars, by this prick?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Huh. That's odd, because Bay Harbor is really great for Petoskey. Most of the homes there are second homes which means the owners pay taxes on them but don't send their kids to Petoskey schools. Now, Petoskey does provide police and fire protection for Bay Harbor but the tradeoff is probably worth it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dad, I'm with you.

What do some people not understand about private property rights, for God's sake? It sounds like this guy is bending over backwards to accommodate everyone, and yet he's called a prick on this board -- supposedly made up of somewhat-educated individuals.

Working within all existing zoning laws, this guy has the legal right to develop the property right up to the setbacks if he wants. It's a miracle, after the way he's been treated by the township commission and the public, that he is willing to compromise at all.

How do all these people know how pristine this propertyy is anyway? This has always been private property and anyone who trespassed on it was violating the law. I remember the outrage when Ken had the house built right on the north beach. You'd have thought someone else owned the land and not Ken!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Obviously a heated issue, all around. I just think the Dennison heirs really screwed Michigan and their legacy. For a paltry million dollars (split how many ways) they have taken away an assett that could have been a jewel for West michigan for all generations to come.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That's because he CAN'T build any houses on the southern property. It looks to me like it's all dune, and AFAIK the dunes are protected by the state and can't be developed. And he probably only wants to develop 260 acres to the north because that's the only land on that property that he can develop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Off topic:

There are many ways to convey one's sentiments without resorting to vulgarity, especially given the vast appeal and lurking this forum has.

For instance, one of my favorites is to hold down SHIFT and then type all the numbers.

"That !@#$%^&* developer" adequately gets the point across just as well.

Thanks for your help!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


For instance, one of my favorites is to hold down SHIFT and then type all the numbers.

"That !@#$%^&* developer" adequately gets the point across just as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Huh. That's odd, because Bay Harbor is really great for Petoskey. Most of the homes there are second homes which means the owners pay taxes on them but don't send their kids to Petoskey schools. Now, Petoskey does provide police and fire protection for Bay Harbor but the tradeoff is probably worth it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am 100% totally against the project. I wish there was some way the state could protect the land as a natural resource that is sensitive to the ecosystem. To me, the term "sensitive" defines every reason why the land should be left natural. The same reasons the Seney Wildlife Refuge in the Upper Peninsula should not be developed...because it is a "refuge".

If the dunes were called, prime real estate ready for development dunes", then, maybe I'd consider it, but with skepticism on how it might negatively affect the Great Lakes' shoreline.

This kind of reminds me of Donald Trump's proposal to "bomb" the sensitive Scottish coastline w/ a golf course.

http://www.worldgolf.com/blogs/dot.wong/20...olf_course_in_s

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dad, I'm with you.

What do some people not understand about private property rights, for God's sake? It sounds like this guy is bending over backwards to accommodate everyone, and yet he's called a prick on this board -- supposedly made up of somewhat-educated individuals.

Working within all existing zoning laws, this guy has the legal right to develop the property right up to the setbacks if he wants. It's a miracle, after the way he's been treated by the township commission and the public, that he is willing to compromise at all.

How do all these people know how pristine this propertyy is anyway? This has always been private property and anyone who trespassed on it was violating the law. I remember the outrage when Ken had the house built right on the north beach. You'd have thought someone else owned the land and not Ken!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't think this is about property rights of the owner but more about zoning of the land in question. I re-read the article on Mlive but it didnt cover everything I heard on the news last night at 11pm. From what I gathered, the land owner is requesting the zoning be change from the current R5(I might be wrong, couldn't remember the exact number) to R4. Under current zoning of R5, the owner can only have one house per every five acres of land. He is requesting the township change the zoning to R4 so he can have one house for ever one acre and a half of land. If the township will grant the zoning change it sounds like he will "lease" or give the southern property to the township and will not seek to develope the souther portion. The owner is asking/requesting this because at the time he bought the property the zoning was set to R4. The owner is saying that a couple of years after he purchased the property the township changed the zoing to R5. The owner is currently sueing the Township because he believes he was not properly informed about the vote to change the zoing from R4 to R5. He is also sueing because he feels with the zoning change that the property value should be reassessed thus lowering his taxes on he property.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it true that at one point the preservationists had raised enough money to buy this property, only to be outbid by a million dollars, by this prick?

I am all for the idea of developing in traditional town way, by hiring DPZ to do the design, but let's get real, this land should not be developed at all. It should be conserved, as is, forever. And DPZ is not, necessarily the silver bullet, they have done single use golf course and resort communities, albeit more beautiful than most, but certainly not in the vane of townbuilding. That is what would end up here. A bunch of big expensive houses with a private marina--maybe even gated. And the trade off would be the loss of this land.

Buying into his "free" lease is a compromise that just doesn't cut it. We are not talking about a regulated wetland in a farm field (that was once a drain) or even riverbank land. This is, I think, a critical dune area along Lake Michigan. These Lake Michigan dunescapes are one of the upper echeleon natural enviroments in our state, maybe even more important than our forest preserves. Some of the most pristine natural environments around. To develop this at all is sickening.

This ultimately leads back to improper zoning and masterplanning. This land should have never been zoned or masterplanned for anything other than conservation. This fight would not be happening if it had been dealt with properly in the past.

Again, absolutely sickening. Why doesn't he just stay in Dallas or wherever craphole he calls home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow...couldn't agree with you and Dad more. When did people suddenly decide private property owners had no rights. Deeply rooted in this conversation is a cry for massive restrictions on property rights, which I find scary. Arguments phrased like "Why should this "billionaire" get to develop his land argument" is based on ignorance, hate, and emotion. He still must abide by the the MDEQ and EPA guidelines. He simply won't be able to bulldoze the dunes away or destroy protected dune grass. You don't see me coming to a neighborhood and telling someone not to put up solar panels because it blocks my view of the beautiful oak tree on their property. If I want to stop those solar panels I'll have to buy your property...not whine my way to convincing the entire neighboorhood and the applicable governing forces that you shouldn't be allowed to do so. There needs to be some perspective and consideration of the long term effects of such arguments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A guess my point is that unless we are going to actively prevent developments up and down the Lakes on a State level, this is a matter that should be decided by the people of Saugatuck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This situation in a way reminds me of the Ada Township billboard boondoggle, where a business owner (who runs a billboard company), who is also a legislator, bought land with hopes of erecting a billboard on it. The billboard was allowed under the current township's ordinance, and the land is pretty much un-developable and mostly wetlands. He paid $67,000 for 6.87 acres. The township, in order to avoid a lawsuit by changing the zoning to disallow billboards on the site, paid the owner 6X the price for the land, or $329,000, to block his billboard. Now people are chastising the business owner/legislator for making that much money on the land and fleecing the Ada taxpayers. :huh:

http://blog.mlive.com/grpress/2007/12/stat...er_adas_di.html

Another incidence of municipalities operating in "reactionary mode" instead of "visionary mode"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately you are the one making fallacious arguments. The US Supreme Court has ruled ad nauseum on this topic from several different vantage points in numerous cases and the conclusion has always been the same... you do not have property rights, or at the least, your "bundle of rights" can be taken away one by one or even added one by one at the governments discretion. Bottom line is that it is up to the government. I am not making a case to agree or disagree, but merely stating facts to set the record straight. The most recent affirmation of this notion came in Kelo V. City of New London in 2005. I do know that the Michigan Supreme Court, in 2004?, tried to outlaw this type of activity, but as you probably know it wont stand a chance if ever challenged. It may already have been challenged.

I think DowntownGEO is correct, this is not about property rights but zoning. Very nice summary DG

Admittedly my initial comment was a rant. I understand this is about zoning (and can't disagree with Downtown) and I understand the Supreme Court

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.