by Austin Marsman
Gun Lake may have frozen over, but controversy surrounding a marina expansion and proposed development is heating up again.
The Orangeville Township Board Tuesday evening adopted a resolution opposing the expansion of a marina and a development proposed by Lucas Spoor. Almost 150 residents packed the Orangeville Township Hall to oppose an updated request from Spoor.
Spoor owns property at 11925 Marsh Road and is seeking a text amendment to the zoning ordinance to allow a marina in what is designated a “mixed-use” area. The new proposal now involves a three-story retail and condo development.
The marina has faced strong opposition from neighbors because it takes away lake access from those living in the vicinity and concerns about safety and overcrowding. The Sam’s Landing Association, which has used the property since the 1930s, has formed a public group on Facebook called ‘Neighbors and Friends Against the Landing Marina’ to share documents, voice concerns about the marina, and connect with other lake residents.
Spoor was granted a permit from the Michigan DEQ to expand his marina beyond just a few boat slips in July 2017. Yankee Springs Township, a few weeks prior, had passed a resolution recommending the DEQ turn down his application.
Driving past the property, it appears construction of the expansion is in progress. Numerous wooden posts, about a foot in diameter, are arranged in a dock-like fashion in the water.
Former Delton High School teacher and football coach Rob Heethuis, president of the Gun Lake Protection Association, told the board during public comment the group opposes what he referred to as the “Spoor Amendment.” He remarked, “Bad things happen when good people look the other way or don’t speak up, we’re here to speak up tonight.”
Heethuis maintained that landing marina has been “operated unlawfully.”
GLPA Attorney Cliff Bloom, asserted in a letter that Spoor “did not obtain a zoning approval from Barry County pursuant to the township ordinance” and “by all indications the Spoor marina has been in violation of the zoning ordinance and Mr. Spoor apparently assumed that his marina did not require any zoning approvals.”
The property on Marsh road is located in a mixed use district, which is often classified as a neighborhood area and not open to a marina-type development. Townbroadcast has verified that to date, no zoning approvals were granted to Spoor by Barry County.
Bloom, who was not in attendance at the meeting, has sent multiple letters to the Township Board, including a suggested resolution for the board to consider.
When questioned by Trustee Bob Perrino, as to the whereabouts of the attorney, Heethuis responded by saying the cost of bringing an attorney to the meeting is too high.
Jim Deters of Shelbyville recalled a GLPA meeting in December when there was a unanimous opposition to Spoor’s marina and any planned development.
Heethuis reminded the board members they would not be alone in this fight.
“You will not be left out to dry, residents and the GLPA are willing to fight this.”
At one point, someone in the crowd asked those opposed to Spoor’s development on South Shore to stand. A majority of the crowd rose to their feet and applauded.
Bloom submitted a resolution for the board, including a strong recommendation that Barry County Planning and Zoning deny the “Spoor Amendment.”
Clerk Mel Risner said she would be happy to take up the resolution put before the board, but added: “We need our attorney present to make a resolution.”
The board then unanimously adopted the resolution as presented by the GLPA, pending review of the board attorney. Risner stated she planned to contact the attorney Wednesday.
The board has until Jan.22 to make a final decision, as Barry County will meet to decide the fate of the landing marina and any proposed development. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Commission on Aging in Hastings.
Before then, the Orangeville board plans to call a special meeting, but there are no further details available yet as to the time and place.
Spoor was given time to comment, but he withdrew all plans for development from the township. It does appear, however; the Spoor Amendment is still on the table.
Townbroadcast is working to learn the fate of the current marina and what plans Spoor has for the future, more information will be passed along when it becomes available.
(Photos courtesy of Austin Marsman)
Clerk Mel Risner