Just because most of the speakers are against it does not mean the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will reject a request to develop dune land near Saugatuck.

On Tuesday night, Oct. 17, there was a public hearing on a proposal to dig a marina and build homes on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck Township. The property is owned by Jeff Padnos of Holland and Cottage Homes is the developer.

The DEQ says the permitting process is not a popularity contest. They only consider the impact on natural resources. Most of the speakers at the hearing are against the plan.

“It is not appropriate for this area,” said Belinda Rachman. “We don’t want it. We fought this fight before with other developers. We don’t want this type of thing in our area.”

Padnos bought the 300-acre parcel after previous owner Aubrey McClendon died in a car crash. The same day he was indicted on a bid rigging conspiracy charge.

Saugatuck marina owner R.J. Peterson supported McClendon’s development plans for the property, and told the DEQ he also supports the Padnos project.

“The marina will attract the people who have the money we need to support our 100-day economy,” he said.

Interested people not at Tuesday night's hearing may still comment on the proposal before the DEQ makes a decision. The 10 day public comment period ends on Oct. 27.

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