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After years-long legal battle, developer lists dune land property for sale in Saugatuck

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
The view of the McClendon property from the mouth of the Kalamazoo River.

After years of legal wrangling over development rights, energy giant Aubrey McClendon has put a huge property up for sale in Saugatuck. The 300-acre parcel includes coastal dunes near Lake Michigan.

McClendon bought the land in 2006 for about $40 million. He spent millions on engineers, architects, designers; and then battling Saugatuck Township in court for the right to develop the land.

Now it’s for sale for about the same price he paid for it. McClendon did sell some of the land a few years ago.

Stephen Neumer represents the developer.

“It’s been a very expensive process. I can’t tell you if it’s been a profit or a loss but it certainly has been a long term undertaking,” Neumer said.

There are many people who would love the remaining parcel turned into a nature preserve or public park, similar to what happened with a 173-acre parcelMcClendon sold that’s south of the Kalamazoo River. That parcel cost about $22 million.

The Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance posted this on their website:

FIRST SOME REALLY GREAT NEWS: Mr. McClendon has just listed his 310-acres for sale for $40 million. The Singapore Dunes property is essential to our community’s vision for balanced development. Public acquisition of the property was defined as the first priority of our Tri-Community Comprehensive Master Plan that was published before Mr. McClendon acquired the land. That priority has not changed and right now we have the opportunity to achieve that goal. THE DEQ needs to hear overwhelming support for public acquisition of this land. It is time to urge the State to invest in this property as a regional resource.

But in the meantime, development plans are moving ahead. A public hearing in that process is set for 6:30p.m. Monday night at Saugatuck High School. Neumer says the property needs a permit from Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality to build an access road in critical dunes.

“If you’re going to develop out there you have to have a way for people to get in and out simultaneously. And you need to be able to get in emergency vehicles like fire trucks,” Neumer said.

The West Michigan Environmental Action Council’s blog urged citizens to be “deeply engaged” in the permit decision.  

Neumer expects a decision on the permit within 90 days.

He says Singapore Dunes is also accepting reservations for the 18 parcels in phase one of the development plans.

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