Posted: October 29, 2020

MapOur community has a 100-year history of progressive, intelligent, and thoughtful land use; fair land-use that we must continue. That history led to investments in the State Park, the Patty Birkholz Natural Area, the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, Oval Beach, Mt. Baldhead, and Tallmadge Woods – all at our Historic River Mouth Area.

As you can see from this map, our community investments were aimed at ensuring contiguous natural areas for nearly four miles of lake frontage.

These investments drive our local economy, and ensure our high quality of life.

We must continue to ensure that no property owner is above the law; or can bend the laws to only increase their profits, especially if their actions impact and degrade these community investments.

This protection is exactly what the Coastal Alliance has been doing for 13 years.

There are three major requirements that must be met before the proposed marina can be constructed. The Coastal Alliance legal team has clearly demonstrated that the proposed marina defies all three requirements. Thus, the marina must be stopped and will be stopped.

First, Aligning with local zoning

“In No Event – In No Event Shall a canal or channel be excavated
for the purpose of increasing the waterfrontage.”

That phrase is from Saugatuck Township’s Zoning Laws Section 40-910(h). It clearly states that in No Event, never, and without exception, can someone excavate a canal to add waterfront to their property. Jeff and Peg Padnos propose adding more than 3,000 feet of waterfrontage.

The Coastal Alliance legal team has appealed to Michigan’s Supreme Court to send local approval back to the Planning Commission for further review of the phrase: In No Event. The State Supreme Court will likely hear arguments this fall. A hearing at the Michigan Supreme Court is an enormous victory for the Coastal Alliance.

The estimated legal cost is $10,000.

Second, Aligning with the State permit

“This permit does not authorize any … impacts to wetlands.”

The State permit for the proposed boat basin clearly says that there must not be “any…impacts to wetlands.”

The Coastal Alliance’s team of hydrogeologists from Michigan State University prepared a model that shows how the construction of the proposed boat basin will impact the surrounding globally imperiled interdunal wetlands by lowering ground water levels nearly 10 feet (yes, feet).

This impact clearly violates the conditions of the state permit.

The Coastal Alliance appeal of the State permit is scheduled for trial this winter. Michigan’s attorney general, during our March 2020 scheduling hearing with the judge, voiced concern over the impacts to wetlands and questioned whether the permit should be revoked.

The estimated cost is about $45,000 for the trial, for legal fees and hydrogeological modeling.

Third, Aligning with the federal, or USACE permit

“No permit is granted if the proposed project is found to be contrary to the public interest.”

The US Army Corps of Engineers is not allowed to approve any projects that are “found to be contrary to the public interest.”

The Coastal Alliance has submitted thousands of pages of documents including policy papers, zoning laws, the Tri-Community Master Plan, economic studies, scientific studies, historical surveys, dissertations, theses, and annotated maps to USACE. These clearly illustrate how the proposed marina – a 1600’ long, 200’ wide, 18’ deep canal dug through the historic site of Singapore while draining the nearby wetlands – is “contrary to the Public Interest.”

Further, the Army Corps must consider “the … public need for the proposed work.”

There is obviously zero ‘Public Need’ for the proposed boat basin.

If the USACE ignores Public Interest and permits the marine, an appeal could cost up to $50,000.

In Summary

The proposed boat basin violates local and states laws and thus is clearly “contrary to the Public Interest.” There is NO PUBLIC NEED for this PRIVATE marina project. The proposed marina can, and will, be stopped. No one should be allowed to avoid or bend these laws for their own profit.

Most recently the three regional Potawatomi Tribes – Pokagon, Gun Lake, and Huron Band – have submitted studies detailing how the river mouth area is a Tribal Cultural Landscape. This is being reviewed by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Office supports this important designation. This is another enormous step toward stopping the proposed boat basin.

The proposed boat basin clearly violates
Local, State, and Federal laws
And now
judges are listening,
Michigan’s attorney general is listening,
And the permitting agencies are listening.

We have been able to make a difference thanks to you and your long-standing and generous support. Please consider contributing to the Coastal Alliance at this critical juncture. Your investment is having an impact. Together we can, and we will, stop this proposed marina.

Thank you very much

The Coastal Alliance Board

For more information contact:
David Swan

The Coastal Alliance is looking for supporters to host a Virtual Cocktail Hours with the Coastal Alliance to answer questions from your friends, neighbors, family, and colleagues. These smaller group meetings are most effective and meaningful. All you have to do is agree to gather 4 or more attendees. We will set up the video conference and send everyone a link.

TEASER: Here is the answer to a question that was posed during our first cocktail hour- “How big is the proposed marina?” The proposed marina is roughly the same as laying the Sears Tower on its side at the river mouth.