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Saugatuck Twp accepts proposed settlement with billionaire

A federal judge will consider another proposed settlement in a legal case between Saugatuck Township and a private developer. The township approved the proposed settlement Wednesday night.

Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon owns more than 300 acres in the township, including coastal dune land along Lake Michigan. He says Saugatuck Township officials unfairly singled out his company Singapore Dunes LLC when they changed zoning rules that restrict development of his property without special permits. He sued the township in over the zoning in federal court.

Those opposed to the proposed settlement say it is just a repackaged version of one a federal judge rejected less than a year ago. The judge threw out that plan because he says it broke state zoning laws.

Supporters of the proposed settlement say it resolves a rather expensive legal case by addressing the developer’s concerns. Under the plan the developer would likely apply for a zoning variance to build condos, a marina and hotel in the now mostly residential neighborhood.

It’s unclear when the judge will make a ruling.

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio’s investigative reporter. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor and West Michigan Reporter.
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