An Open Letter to Saugatuck Area Residents

NorthShore of Saugatuck wishes to acknowledge and thank the community for their kindness and words of encouragement over the last year.

We have hosted many events, community open houses, and field trips on the former Denison property this summer. We listened to your stories about the property and we share your passion for the land.

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New ‘Wild Heart’ Owner Eyes Balanced Plan

By Scott Sullivan, Editor | Commercial Record

New McClendon land owner Jeff Padnos recalls growing up when “capitalist” was followed by “pig” in some minds.

Now, as third-generation board chair of Padnos — which has grown from a Holland-based scrap metal processor to a “paper, plastics, metals and more” recycler — he talks about other means of transformation.

“There are stereotypes,” says Padnos, “and opportunities to learn from them.”

We are seated in the Lake House, commanding a view of the Kalamazoo River channel flowing into Lake Michigan. Behind us roll 308 acres of dunes, woods, shorelines … a rich and diverse ecosystem called “the Wild Heart of Saugatuck” by many.

Padnos, in concert with Cottage Home, a builder/designer of high-end lakefront dwel-lings, proposes to build around 40 homes on the parcel. Twenty-three of them would bring a boat basin on about 96 acres that once housed the lost lumber village of Singapore, drifted over by sand in the 1870s, and later a boat-building factory.

“By building on land that has long been disturbed,” says Cottage Home president Brian Bosgraaf, “we won’t need to reclaim our investment elsewhere and can place 208.3 acres in a conservation easement.”

There has been opposition — expected — to the proposal, but nothing like what arose when the land’s prior owner — natural gas magnate Aubrey McClendon — pitched a resort with a 66-slip marina, seven-story inn, nine-hole golf course, 100 homes and equestrian area on the land stretching eastward to Blue Star Highway. Litigation came part and parcel.

After McClendon was killed in a high-speed single-car crash in March 2016, his estate put the local land up for sale. Padnos bought it.

Why?

“We see opportunity to do thoughtful business that benefits the community,” says the new owner. “We are very aware this is sensitive land. It deserves careful uses where it can be used.

“Economics and the environment need not be adversaries. They can work together. I’m a passionate moderate. Balance matters to me,” he says.

One plan is for a community historical and environmental education building near the boat basin. Another calls for a public path to a breathtaking observation point high on the eastern property.

The Saugatuck Township board Aug. 2 spending up to $20,125 to drill for a possible municipal water well site on 10 acres Padnos says he will donate to the Kalamazoo Lake Sewer and Water Authority for that purpose.

“We’ve been looking for our next site to serve the community for years,” KLSWA manager Daryl VanDyke told the board. “This is by far the most promising site we’ve seen: fairly flat and ringed by a conservation easement.”

“There’s no quid pro quo involved,” Padnos says. “If they find good water source, it’s the best use possible for the land.”

When the company says it recycles plastics, paper, metal “and more,” Padnos means it. At least metaphorically, the firm also recycles people.

“Welcome!” writes Jeff Padnos on its website. Next to three tulips sculpted out of recycled metal, he has penned this greeting.

“I’ve sometimes introduced myself by saying that my grandfather was a ‘junk dealer,’ my father and uncle were ‘scrap processors,’ and that my brother, cousins and I are ‘recyclers.’ More recently, I’ve started to add that, with the next generation, we are moving into ‘sensible sustainability.’

“But underneath all those phrases, the passion has always been the same. This passion starts with our people, and extends to all the materials we process and recycle, and to the energy we use doing this worthwhile work.”
Part of that is “personal recycling”: offering employment to people, including ex-prisoners, who might otherwise not have that opportunity.

“Our attitude,” says Padnos, “is, If we would not throw a piece of metal away, why would we want to throw away a human being?”

What about local land that’s been long disputed? “We’re invited people to tour it,” he says — the next opportunity comes Thursday, Aug. 10, from 3 to 8 p.m. — “hearing their thoughts and engaging them.

“We can’t accommodate the people who want nothing on this property. But we can find sensitive uses that benefit almost everyone.

“Business done right can be like applied religion that way,” he says.

What about arguments that building homes will create new jobs, add to the property tax base and bring new residents here to patronize restaurants, shops and galleries?

“You can make them,” says Padnos. “But people who do get called ‘capitalist pigs.’ Money is involved, but it’s not the only thing.

“Here is an opportunity to take something that has been subject to controversy and to leave a good legacy.”
Our talk strays. Padnos, who worked for a precursor to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Mayor John Lindsay in New York City and gave a speech to a Katmandu science club, has wide interests.

He recalls a speech he made at a meeting of the Michigan Civil Liberties Union: a tough crowd for some business leaders.

“I said free enterprise has done more to lift people out of poverty than any other system. They gave me a standing ovation.

“Who would have thought?” he says.

NorthShore Hosts Open Houses, Lists Home Sites

By Scott Sullivan, Editor | Commercial Record

NorthShore of Saugatuck LLC hosted more than 200 guests Friday, June 9, and 300 visitors the next Friday at Kick-Off Open Houses on its 304-acre property.

Padnos Iron and Metal Co. president Jeff Padnos and his wife, Peg, of Holland, acquired the land fronting Lake Michigan north of the Kalamazoo River channel from the Aubrey McClendon estate Jan. 30. They plan, with builder/designer Cottage Home of Holland, to build around 40 homes on the parcel.

Open house attendees received detailed introductions to the property and gathered information on dune preservation while on golf cart tours of the channel and shoreline areas. They were also treated to hors d’oeuvres and beverages on the deck of the beach house while taking in the sunset over Lake Michigan.

“This project is world class,” said Henry Slenk, who attended. “The emphasis on preservation is outstanding.”

Cottage Home president Brian Bosgraaf, who is leading the proposed development, plans 15 home sites on 35.7 acres fronting the northwest channel and Lake Michigan already approved for 18 homes; another four as allowed by right on 10.2 downriver acres northwest of Pine Trail Camp; commercial development on 17.2 acres on the eastern part of the parcel and 23 homes surrounding a boat basin on 95.67 acres where the lost lumber village of Singapore once stood.

“By building around a basin on land that that’s long been disturbed, we won’t need to reclaim our investment elsewhere and can place 208.3 acres in a conservation easement,” Bosgraaf told The Commercial Record.

The Saugatuck Township Planning Commission voted 6-0 April 26 to grant preliminary planned unit development and site condominium approvals for the boat basin — called Harbor Cluster — tract, contingent on 15 conditions as recommended by township attorney Scott Smith.

Smith told the commission NorthShore’s planned basin did not fall within their purview. Among conditions he recommended for final approval were that the developer obtain needed permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency, plus the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for the basin work.
Those applications include public notices and a public hearing, and preempt most local control, the township attorney said.

The Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance, a nonprofit land preservation group which since 2007 has contested efforts to develop the property, filed June 20 in Allegan County Circuit Court seeking to overturn the planning commission’s action. The lawsuit is being processed.
Sixty-plus realtors attended a Cottage Home-hosted June 20 broker tour of the parcel. The builder’s northshoreofsaugatuck.com website is now listing two of its seven lakefront sites and two of eight channel sites for sale.

Lake Sites 3 and 6, offering private frontage, list for $2.95 million and $2.75 million respectively. Channel Sites 8 and 14, which offer channel frontage and deeded lake access, list for $2.95 and $1.5 million respectively.

News Updates on the Boat Basin Homes Approval Process

Excepts From the Commercial Record

Plans for Boat Basin Homes Receives Township Approval 

The Saugatuck Township Planning Commission April 26 unanimously gave preliminary approvals for NorthShore of Saugatuck LLC to build 23 homes surrounding a boat basin where the lost lumber village of Saugatuck once stood.

Members also voted 5-1 to ask the township board to hire a certified planner to assist with the final site plan approval process.

Doing business as NorthShore, the new owners plan to build about 40 single-family homes on the parcel, including the boat basin tract, first developed as Singapore in the 1830s and later occupied by a Denison family Broward Boat Works plant.

“By building around a basin on land that’s long been disturbed, we won’t need to reclaim our investment elsewhere and can place 208.3 acres in a conservation easement,” Cottage Home president Brian Bosgraaf told The Commercial Record.

The commission tabled voting on NorthShores’ boat basin/homes requests at a Feb. 28 public hearing and again March 28, asking for more time in the second instance to review a seven-page memorandum received from township attorney Scott Smith earlier that same day.

Smith’s memo noted NorthShore is not seeking township approval for the boat basin. The developer is seeking approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to construct the basin. Those applications include public notices and a public hearing, and preempt most local control.

“I am pleased,” said Bosgraaf, “with the commission’s diligence and efforts. This is just the beginning of the process. We have to meet many standards to win federal and state approvals, plus requirements to fulfill with the township.”

Excerpts from the Holland Sentinel

The preliminary site plan of NorthShore of Saugatuck at Saugatuck Dunes was approved unanimously by the Saugatuck Township Planning Commission.

The preliminary site plan of NorthShore of Saugatuck at Saugatuck Dunes was approved unanimously on Wednesday, April 26, by the Saugatuck Township Planning Commission.

The proposed development is home sites and a small community building that would serve as a gathering place for homeowners, according to Cottage Home president and designer Brian Bosgraaf. It also includes a boat basin and slips.

The Holland-based company bought the property in December 2016 after energy mogul Aubrey McClendon died in a March 2016 car crash, one day after he was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in Oklahoma.

The property has frontage on both Lake Michigan and the Kalamazoo River, north of the channel in Saugatuck Township. Over the course of several years, previous owner Singapore Dunes LLC was embroiled in several lawsuits with Saugatuck Township, concerning extensive development planned for the land.

“The previous owner had some really impactful, kind of outrageous plans,” Bosgraaf said. “Our plan is so different.”

The planning commission approval is just one the development needs to reach reality. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality still needs to approve the boat basin, and the site plan needs final approval; Kushion said a date for the final site plan review isn’t established yet.

While there was public opposition, Kushion noted that the plan meets zoning requirements and follows the law. The planning commission can’t deny plans without reason.

Bosgraaf said when his company purchased the land, it employed a conservation-based development planning concept. The first step taken was evaluating natural features of the land.

“The (dunes and wetlands) have been marked out and have been set aside to be left untouched,” he said. “Two-thirds of the land immediately was identified as land that we should really just stay out of.”

He added the company is giving private tours and plans to list a few home sites for sale this June.

New Owner Eyes Boat Basin, 40 New Homes On Land

By Scott Sullivan, Editor | Commercial Record

Cottage Home of Holland closed Jan. 30 on 304 acres dubbed by some “The Wild Heart of Saugatuck” on which it hopes to build about 40 homes plus a boat basin.

The firm, with financial backing from Padnos Iron and Metal Co. president Jeff Padnos and his wife, Peg, wants to place more than two-thirds of the former Denison-McClendon land, fronting Lake Michigan north of the Kalamazoo River Channel, into a conservation easement.
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An Open Letter to Saugatuck Area Residents

The 300 acres that stretch from Blue Star Highway to Lake Michigan on the north side of the Kalamazoo River has a residential and industrial history as well as unique natural features. In planning the NorthShore of Saugatuck, the owners wish to create a place that respects history, protects valuable natural features, and provides exceptional living experiences. The plan is to create single family homes on the water’s edge and around a newly created boat basin.

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Contact Us for Your Private Tour.

For a personal tour of the NorthShore of Saugatuck property, and to insure you are on the list of potential homeowners, please fill out and send us your request. Thank you.