Two Positive Developments!
The Coastal Alliance has two positive developments to report in our efforts to stop the proposed NorthShore of Saugatuck marina. As you recall, NorthShore needs local, state, and federal permits to proceed, and we have encouraging news about both the local and state permits.
Allegan County Circuit Court: Judge Considers Remanding Standing Decision to the Saugatuck Planning Commission?
On Monday, lawyers for the Coastal Alliance, Saugatuck Township, and NorthShore appeared at a hearing before Judge Kengis in Allegan County Circuit Court related to whether the Coastal Alliance has standing to challenge the Township’s zoning permits. The Michigan Supreme Court had remanded that determination back to the Circuit Court last summer after providing clarification on the criteria to demonstrate standing.
Even though the Supreme Court’s opinion confirmed that this type of appeal should be decided on the basis of a closed record, which means that new evidence is not admissible, NorthShore introduced evidence that wasn’t part of the original proceedings in the Zoning Board of Appeals or Circuit Court. We responded with a “motion to strike” that asked the court to either remove the additional evidence or, if not, then to remand the case back to the Township Planning Commission to consider new evidence submitted by all parties.
Judge Kengis opened Monday’s hearing with a comment that his initial reaction was to remand determination of standing back to the Planning Commission. Attorneys for both NorthShore and the Township disagreed with the judge’s perspective and asked for the opportunity to file briefs outlining their concerns. Briefs are due on April 17 and the parties will be back in Court on April 24.
Our hope is that the Judge will indeed remand the decision on standing back to the Township Planning Commission. As our attorney noted, this would facilitate fairness. It would enable the Planning Commission to consider the Supreme Court’s definition of standing – which we’re confident we meet. Assuming we’re granted standing, we would finally move forward with the merits of the Coastal Alliance’s challenge to the Township’s issuance of zoning permits for the project back in 2017, arguing that they clearly violate local zoning ordinances.
Stay tuned as this continues to unfold….
EGLE Contested Case to be Dismissed
You may remember that we sued the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) contesting the permits they granted for the proposed NorthShore marina. On Tuesday during a routine status conference, attorneys for the Coastal Alliance, EGLE, and NorthShore discussed and agreed with Judge Pulter that the expiration of the contested permits in January 2023 moots the case. Paperwork will be filed to that effect in the next week, and the case should be officially dismissed shortly after.
This is a good outcome for the Coastal Alliance, allowing us to focus our resources elsewhere. Rest assured that we are focused on preparing for public comments and a public hearing should NorthShore complete their EGLE applications. And if EGLE again grants NorthShore permits, the Coastal Alliance can file a new contested case. Again, stay tuned….
These developments – and all the other progress we’ve made – wouldn’t be possible without our loyal donors and supporters and our amazing legal team. Thank you!
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The Coastal Alliance Board of Directors
Listen to Journalist Tamara Dean’s 29-minute Podcast
The podcast, released last week by Pacifica Radio, details our communities’ efforts to protect the Saugatuck Dunes at the Kalamazoo River Mouth. The podcast includes powerful perspectives from regional tribal communities, as well as Coastal Alliance leaders.
The Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance is a coalition of individuals and organizations working cooperatively to protect and preserve the natural geography, historical heritage, and rural character of the Saugatuck Dunes coastal region in the Kalamazoo River Watershed, beginning with the Saugatuck Dunes.
OUR GEOGRAPHY IS OUR ECONOMY
With over one million visitors each year, it makes sound economic sense to protect and preserve what attracts visitors to the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal region in the first place. Throughout the last hundred years, much of that attraction has been our unique natural heritage: the dynamic splendor of Lake Michigan, our beautiful beaches, the Saugatuck Dunes, the tranquil woods, and running through the middle of it all—creating stunning vistas of land and water from every angle—the Kalamazoo River flows through the Harbor and out into the Lake. To be here is to be a part of two worlds: one on land and one on water.