The Grand Haven Planning Commission voted 7-2 Tuesday to deny recommendation of a planned development to bring 168 apartments, a hotel and stores to the north-end site. The installation of a kayak launch and riverside pathway are also part of the plan.
Commissioners Bob Huff and Bill Ellingboe voted against the denial.
Huff noted that there is a lot more that could be done if the site wasn’t a redeveloped brownfield site.
“Even if it is an apartment complex, it is 100 percent better than what was there,” he said.
Ellingboe said, “I’ve been, for the most part, in favor of this even when it was denied. I think it is a good project and I want to see it move forward.”
Commission Chairman Cecil Bradshaw was critical of the development.
“The current concept is an apartment complex, and it creates a pretty mundane entrance to the City of Grand Haven,” he said. “In the end, I think we’ve got to feel comfortable in our approval and what we want to vote for.”
Bradshaw said the original plan — which featured a mix of uses such as townhomes, condos, hotels, restaurants and waterfront amenities — had a better community impact.
“The original planned development was exciting and had a ‘wow’ factor to it,” he said. “I felt it would create a beautiful entrance to the city.”
Commissioner Erin Von Tom was also critical of the plan.
“There was a sense of vibrancy in the original development that I am not seeing here,” she said. “This could be anywhere.”
Von Tom said the original proposal had a “destination feel.”
“We could do anything with the planned development, and what we’re getting is 'cookie cutter USA,'” she said. “We have one chance to get this right, and I think we could do better.”
City Community Development Manager Jennifer Howland said the plan would be sent to City Council for consideration at a future meeting. Council could accept the Planning Commission’s decision or reverse it with a "supermajority" vote, she said.