Singapore Dunes Sues Saugatuck

This lawsuit could effect how the recent amendments to the Michigan’s Sand Dune Protection and Management Act (SDPMA) is interpreted and enforced throughout the state.

Summary of lawsuit:

Singapore Dunes is arguing that (1) a local zoning ordinance cannot regulate critical dunes areas unless the DEQ has approved the zoning ordinance and (2) all local zoning of critical dunes areas is preempted by the critical dunes act, especially if it is more restrictive than the restrictions provided in the critical dunes act. They are asking that the township be enjoined from enforcing the regulations in the township’s critical dunes overlay district.

Summary of possible outcomes of lawsuit:

The worst case outcome would the court holding the critical dunes act preempts all local zoning of critical dunes areas, such that no township zoning regulations would apply to the critical dunes area. The best case would be if the court held that the critical dunes act and local zoning are parallel permitting schemes that both apply in their entirety. Both of these are unlikely. The more middle ground results would be that a court holds that local zoning regulations are preempted by the critical dunes act only to the extent they are in conflict with AND more restrictive than the act’s regulations.

Depending on the scope of the holding, a court could either strike down the entire critical dunes overlay district as preempted OR could strike down only the provisions that are in conflict with and more restrictive than the critical dunes act. For example, the township could regulate lot size, open space requirements, and setbacks from the road, but could not require a setback from Lake Michigan that differed from what the critical dunes act requires.

(Search this site and for “Singapore Dunes” to get more background information.

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