The Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance will host a town hall meeting Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts at 6:30 p.m. to update residents on its efforts to stop developer NorthShore of Saugatuck from creating a private boat basin north of the Kalamazoo River channel to Lake Michigan.
Members object to NorthShore plans to excavate and remove a quarter-million tons of sand from within Michigan’s Critical Dune Boundary between the Patty Birkholz Natural Area north in Saugatuck Dunes State Park and the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area south of the river channel.
SDCA president David Swan will discuss and answer questions about local, state, and federal permits the developer must secure for their proposed marina.
NorthShore, granted a then Michigan Department of Environmental Quality permit to do so in January 2018, has begun reapplying to what is now the state Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) department for new permit in January 2023, when it expires.
After NorthShore completes its new application, EGLE will hold a public comment period and public hearing, which it anticipates will occur this fall.
“Thanks to the vigilance and persistence of the Coastal Alliance,” says board chair Bobbie Gaunt, NorthShore was unable to begin or complete its marina during the five-year permit period.
“Key to our success in stopping this environmentally devasting project was evidence we submitted that their excavation could lower the surrounding groundwater by about 14 feet — about the height of a one-story house,” she goes on.
The proposed development would also forever erase more than 6.5 acres from the Critical Dune map for private, commercial gain, the Alliance argues. It would put the endangered lake sturgeon at further risk, destroy elements of the historic site of Singapore, and dock 50 yachts at the most-congested part of the river mouth.
“We are encouraging people to bring their laptops and notepads,” says Swan, “so they can prepare to write letters to local elected officials and state regulators to ensure our voices are heard.
“The town hall will also prepare people to submit informed comments to EGLE this fall.”
The SCA is at 400 Culver St., Saugatuck. A reception with refreshments will follow.