News Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

Township eyes phased-in campground plan


California-based Autocamp has scaled back plans from 112 total to 76 phase-one campsites on 29.24 acres 34.61 Blue Star Hwy. because “stuff” happens — specifically, need to dispose of sewage.

The Saugatuck Township Board June 12 weighed a proposed agreement with Outdoor Lodgings Fund II Holdings, LLC, dba. AutoCamp, to fund buying enough Kalamazoo Lake Sewer & Water Authority sewer capacity to flush waste the project generates.

Phasing the project would reduce the estimated first-purchase needs from 13,440 gallons per day to 9,120 gpd, says the firm’s proposal. Phase two, which would bring the build out to 112 sites, would come later.

Saugatuck and Douglas cities own most KLSWA capacity, the township a smaller share and Laketown Township a portion too.

“Our infrastructure,” said Saugatuck Township Manager Daniel DeFranco, “can handle a lot of flow and is newer than the cities.’

“But we would have to negotiate with them to acquire processing from the KLSWA plant, whose capacity now is about half used. That or enter an agreement with KLSWA to expand its Wastewater Treatment Plant.”

Should costs exceed estimates, Autocamp would have to make up that difference too.

Firm acquisitions director John Hesse in fall 2022 outlined plans for a 112-site campground with 6,000-square-foot clubhouse, small market store, pool, hot tubs, spa or sauna and group gathering spaces on the Chad Van Horn-owned parcel northwest of Blue Star at Holland Street, entering into town.

He described Autocamp Autocamp (website as a leader in outdoor hospitality whose existing locations in Yosemite and Joshua Tree national parks and the Russian River (all in California), Cape Cod, Mass. and the Catskills in upstate New York “are known for beautiful modern Airstream suites, modern cabins and luxurious tents.”

The township granted the firm a special approval use contingent on:

• Funding a $200,000 escrow account before permits are issued to engineer and install a traffic light at Holland Street and eliminate curb cuts that now exist at the Shull Motel and a single-family home there, leaving a single access point on the existing private drive;

• Adhering to Fleis & Vandenbrink engineer Jacob Swanson’s recommendation of a tapered deceleration lane for southbound traffic and crosswalk in addition to the traffic signal;

• Ringing most of the site with an 8-foot landscaped berm, also using existing trees and shrubs to protect guests and from traffic noise and neighbors from unintended on-site noise. Autocamp’s project narrative notes it “strictly enforces 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. quiet hours”; and

• Abides otherwise with bicycle and pedestrian safety needs as outlined. To further meet Township Ordinance Sec. 40-693 Campgrounds, Travel Trailer and Recreational Vehicle parks special use standards that the project:

• Be designed, constructed, operated and maintained in a manner harmonious with the character of adjacent property and the surrounding area;

• Shall not change the essential character of the surrounding area;

• Shall not be hazardous to adjacent property or involve uses, activities, materials or equipment detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of persons or property by traffic, parking requirements, noise, vibration, smoke, fumes or glare; and

• Shall not place demands on public services and facilities in excess of capacity.

The board last week referred the revised proposal to its attorney for further study.

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