Michigan Public Radio: ELPC’s Kearney Speaks Out to Protect Saugatuck Dunes

Some Michigan residents are saying no to a potential development along the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a public meeting last night to hear from residents about a proposed development project along dunes on Lake Michigan.

At issue is a plan to build a marina and resort along the Saugatuck Dunes, which are off of Lake Michigan, more specifically off the Kalamazoo River.

John Bayha, an Environmental Engineer with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, says the meeting was to get public comment.

“We have two main permit applications right now under review, and so this hearing was just the opportunity for the public to provide comments that we will take into consideration in our decision making process on these applications,” Bayha said.

Margrethe Kearney, Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, says the proposal raises several red flags.

“We think there are a lot of issues related to public safety, related to the public interests, related to protection of endangered species and natural resources,” Kearney said.

Kearney says the proposal also goes against state and local laws.

“There are several Michigan laws built to protect the natural landscape and protect the natural beauty we have here. [Michigan’s] scenery is a big tourist attraction and it doesn’t make sense to do anything that might hurt that,” she said.

Development along the dunes has been the subject of debate for decades in this area, but Bayha says the department’s decision regarding the application will be made sometime next month.

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