In case anyone is not aware, there is a proposed development of 3 story buildings containing approximately 20 units under consideration by the Planning Commission for the area which used to be Riviera Gardens (next to what used to be Frankie’s now Union Pier Social).

Many in the community feel that this type of development is not in character for Union Pier which is mainly single family homes. There are 2 townhouse developments in the immediate vicinity of this proposed development, but they are much less dense, probably half the density of this development.

Union Pier is an area of smaller lots and single family homes. The seasonal short term rentals have dramatically increased car congestion in the area as many homes that parked one or two cars as second homes now park 3,4,5 or more cars. Many have to use the right of way for parking as their small lots provide no area for on-property parking. The end of road lake access areas, Miller, McKinley, Townline and Berrien have become unpleasantly crowded and cars are parked along the right of way often in front of people’s homes. and it is these lake access areas that would be most affected with additional crowding.

On a busy summer weekend, I counted 67 cars along Townline Road parked from the beach to Lakeshore Road. The same for Berrien access. Cars line Lakeshore road and down Berrien all the way to Whistle Stop often parking in front of people’s homes sometimes blocking their driveways or sidewalks or leave no parking for the homeowners guests. By Chikaming township’s own description, these are road end access areas. They are not “public beaches,” per se. And they have become very crowded. These lake access areas are on average only approximately 100 feet wide and beyond that, one cannot lie down on a blanket or sit in the sand.

This development has 20 townhomes. Should they become short term rentals, by township occupancy limits, this development could add up to close to 200 people. And Miller and Berrien are the closest lake access areas and would cause even more crowding. The townhouses have attached 2 car garages on the ground level. There are no private yards for children or pets. There is minimal guest parking on site which would result in even more parking congestion should the owner of each of the townhouses have several visiting cars. The main traffic in and out would be on Goodwin Avenue leading onto Red Arrow Highway very near the intersection in Union Pier, an intersection with no traffic light. And a development of this size on this small a lot would cause more noise to the surrounding homes.

There are many people in the community that feel that this area would serve the community much more if it were to become a community park. Every community in Harbor Country has a park area in their central downtown area. New Buffalo, Three Oaks, Lakeside, Harbert and soon to be, Sawyer, all have parks in their central areas. Communities all over the world have parks in their central areas for the enjoyment of the community. Whether it be a piazza, a zocalo, etc. Think of how visitors and community members alike all enjoy the park in New Buffalo or the music in the park in Three Oaks or the ice cream social in Lakeside. Union Pier has no such park. And the location at this site would be perfect as it is close to restaurants and shops … places to grab some food or ice cream and sit in green grass. A place to relax. A place for mothers to bring their children. A place for people to meet. A place for community events. It is directly on the linear park which would allow walkers and cyclists a place to rest. It has plenty of available parking for community events. It is right in the designated “community center” and would anchor the downtown area.

It is my feeling and the feeling of many in the community, that THIS, not a highly dense townhouse development, would be of maximum benefit to the community and to visitors to our area. I would urge everyone who feels the same to contact Chikaming Township Board of Trustees in writing to have your voice be heard. You can email the township supervisor: dbunte@chikamingtownship.org with instructions to forward your email to the board of trustees

Suzanne Koenigsberg

Union Pier

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