Court: Appeal of Portage Twp. site plan should’ve gone to zoning board
HOUGHTON — A proposed development at the former Onagaming Yacht Club can proceed after a Houghton County Circuit Court ruling lifted a stay order.
The Wednesday ruling from Judge Nicholas Daavettila found the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal by Portage Township resident Camiel Thorrez, who had sought a reversal of the township’s approval of a site plan by Pilgrim Point Houghton, LLC.
The temporary stay was issued after Thorrez filed suit in August 2022, shortly after the Planning Commission approved a site plan.
Owners planned a resort incorporating the original building, which had formerly been used for a yacht club. The building would be restored and used for a resort office, gift shop and food and beverage operation.
On the eastern side of U.S. 41, they would add one- and two-bedroom units, along with new parking. The west side would have 10 RV sites and additional parking, representatives said at the time.
The ruling found Thorrez should have first appealed the decision to the township’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
Thorrez had contended the appeals board had no authority to review Planning Commission decisions, citing a portion of the board’s bylaws allowing it to review appeals of decisions “by an administrative official or the Zoning Administrator.”
Daavettila found the zoning ordinance was more expansive. It allowed for singular words such as “administrative official” to be read as plural when context allowed. Another section of the zoning ordinance said the appeals board would “hear and decide appeals from and review any administrative order, requirement, decision, or determination made by an administrative official or body charged with enforcement of a zoning ordinance adopted under this act.”