SAUGATUCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has given a marina and home development project in the Lake Michigan sand dunes a key permit it needs to move forward.
The department approved a permit for the North Shores of Saugatuck project Friday. The project would build a 1,600-foot-long marina and nearly 40 home sites near the Saugatuck Dunes State Park.
The permit requires that the marina basin be lined with impermeable clay to isolate it from the groundwater system and that five groundwater monitoring wells be installed near the wetlands, said John Bayha, the environmental engineer overseeing the permit application.
Sand removed from the marina must be spread at a site that’s not a wetland or critical dune area, Bayha said. Only native plants will be allowed to be put into the area, so developers won’t be able to put in grassy lawns. Part of the property must also be set aside as a donation to the state park or a permanent conservation easement, he said.
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The department also approved the construction of an access roadway around the marina.
The property spanning more than 300 acres once belonged to Oklahoma oil tycoon Aubrey McClendon, who proposed large-scale development that didn’t materialize before his death in March 2016. The project is proposed by the land’s new owner, Jeff Padnos, and development company Cottage Home.
The plans have drawn opposition from area residents and environmentalists. The development could hurt vital wetlands, disturb fish populations and historic resources, and have a negative economic impact, said David Swan, president of the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance.
Cottage Home President Brian Bosgraaf said the project is taking a “conservation-based development” approach.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must still award a permit before construction can begin.