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