After several years of attempts to force Saugatuck Township into a development at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River that experts consider out-of-scale and inappropriate for the environmentally sensitive and historically important property, Aubrey McClendon’s Singapore Dunes is now attempting to sell the property for speculative development. To faciliate this effort, Singapore Dunes is now seeking approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to pave 200,000 square feet of dunes.
A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, August 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Saugatuck High School Auditorium, located at 401 Elizabeth Street in Saugatuck.
The North Denison property is pivotal to the community’s vision for development. Public acquisition of the property was defined as the first priority of the Tri-Community Comprehensive Master Plan, which was born of the investment of over $100,000 in public funding and engaged record numbers of citizens, with robust 40% participation rates in community surveys. It was unanimously approved by Saugatuck Township and the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas.
According to the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance, the North Denison must be developed in such a way that it fully preserves the migratory bird pathways that support several listed threatened and endangered species, the globally unique freshwater interdunal wetlands and world class freshwater dune structures.
The property is currently listed on MLS for $40 million. As Singapore Dunes appears ready to walk away from the development, SDCA believes there is now an opportunity to discuss a potential collaboration for a state investment in the property and a community collaborative to define an appropriate conservation development for the property.
Interestingly, Singapore Dunes will also be seeking height setback variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday, August 29.
The larger discussion aside, the proposed road would negatively impact the property in several ways, including:
- Removes 518 trees in critical habitat for the Cerulean Warbler, which is dependent on contiguous tree cover.
- Unnecessarily cuts through the peak of the dune structure, which is stabilized by the forested area. Cutting through the top of the dune works against best practices in critical dune development, which call for working around dune structures rather than over them.
- Unnecessarily cuts the globally imperiled interdunal wetlands in half.
This public hearing is a critical point in the development regarding the future of the North Denison Property. Citizens need to be deeply engaged in this decision. Those that are not able to attend in person are encouraged to submit a comment to the DEQ expressing your concerns. WMEAC will be partnering with SDCA to issue an action alert early next week.
Additional information on the permit request (full text here) after the jump:
The road would measure approximately 10,000 feet long with a paved width of 20 feet
Over 35,000 yards of fill
Road will be used to support single-family lots, with more multi-family development and a marina on the site.
Developers claim that without the road, the land will not be used for “economically viable” purposes
Development will have 19 houses, a swimming pool, and tennis courts to start.
Six-foot shoulders for a total of over 30 feet of road width.
Construction proposal involves stripping topsoil from the area, removing all scrub shrubs and trees, and then replacing the soil in different areas / planting it.
518 trees need to be cut down for the road to be built.
6 different endangered and threatened species of plants and animals are also in the construction zone.
Bird nesting habitats exist in the area
Road will cut through parts of dunes, requiring retaining structures.