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Judge dismisses appeal of Health Pointe

Alex Doty • Aug 13, 2016 at 9:00 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — An Ottawa County judge has dismissed the appeal of the Grand Haven Township Board’s decision on the Health Pointe planned unit development.

The appellants, Mark Reenders and Chester of Michigan LLC, filed their appeal in Ottawa County Circuit Court on April 27. They sought a reversal of the March 28 Township Board decision. 

Circuit Judge Jon Van Allsburg issued his ruling Thursday.

"While we are disappointed with the judge's decision to deny our appeal, we are not surprised,” Reenders said. “We think the community will have a different decision this November when it repeals the township's retroactive law change that was passed to support a project that did not meet the township's ordinances.”

According to the claim, the PUD amendment that was sought by Health Pointe is for a medical office, or a medical clinic, and a medical office is not permitted by township ordinance in the commercial business district, near the Meijer store, where Health Pointe is to be built. Health Pointe is a joint venture of Spectrum Health and Holland Hospital.

“We strongly feel that Grand Haven Township arbitrarily decided to allow a separate set of rules for a large developer, versus the rules that apply to everyone else,” Reenders said. “The community should be very concerned with a local governing body that goes to the extremes of ignoring and then changing the law without due process. It affects all of us.”

Reenders said they’ve made it clear through various public hearings that the concern is with the township, not the builder.

“We strongly encourage the community to stay engaged in the oversight of local governance and vote this November," he added.

Reenders won the Republican Party nomination for township supervisor on Aug. 2, defeating incumbent Karl French and Township Trustee Mike Hutchins. He will run unopposed in the Nov. 8 general election.

According to court records, Chester of Michigan LLC is owned by Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, who also owns Generation Care.

On April 27, Reenders and Chester of Michigan filed their claim of appeal and argued that the township’s approval of the PUD amendment for Health Pointe was unlawful, in violation of zoning ordinances, not based on proper procedures, not a reasonable exercise of discretion, and not supported by competent, material and substantial evidence.

The township and Health Pointe subsequently moved for dismissal of the appeal, and argued that the appellants lacked standing to appeal the Township Board’s decision.

“This decision by Judge Van Allsburg to dismiss the case follows well-established case law on the threshold question of whether Reenders and/or Lookabaugh-Deur had ‘standing’ to bring any legal action against the township,” Township Manager Bill Cargo said. "In this instance, the court noted that neither of the litigants ‘suffered some special damage’ when dismissing the case.”

Cargo drew an analogy to a sports trade to help explain the decision.

“To use a baseball analogy, a fan could bring legal action against the Detroit Tigers because of some trade that he considered detrimental to the Tigers’ playoff chances,” the township manager said. “But, the court would rule similarly on the ‘threshold’ question of standing and dismiss the case since the fan would not have suffered any special damages not common to other fans.”

Township officials say they hope the judge’s decision will not be appealed.

“Being forced to spend additional taxpayer monies to defend well-established case law on this threshold questions of standing would be unfortunate,” Cargo said.

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