Feel free to share this post...

More than 60 people crowded into the Peninsula Township Hall last night for a public hearing on a Pre-Preliminary Plat Subdivision Plan for “The 81 on East Bay,” a.k.a. the Old Boursaw farm, which borders Boursaw Road and includes frontage on East Grand Traverse Bay. The developer is Kevin O’Grady, owner of “The 81 Development Company, LLC.”

This is the second plan submitted to the Township for the 81-acre parcel, so there are currently two plans being reviewed by the Township. When I spoke with Michelle Reardon, Peninsula Township Director of Planning and Zoning, in June, she said only twice in her career has she seen a developer submit two separate plans for the same piece of property, and both were from the same developer.

Old Mission Gazette is Reader Supported.
Click Here to Keep the Gazette Going.

Reardon notes that although the PUD was approved, issues involving fire access, soil erosion and engineering were remanded back to the Township Board. A public hearing on the PUD will take place next week (we’ll post details when they’re available).

The PUD approved last August includes 41 single-family lots, new paved roads, and up to 40 boat docking spaces. The new plat subdivision plan includes 53 units/lots, each with individual wells and septic. Average lot size is approximately one acre, with 150 feet of frontage on a private road. Thirteen of the lots would be located along the eastern boundary of the property and have private water access on East Grand Traverse Bay. The remaining 40 lots would not have water access.

Following the approval of the PUD, adjacent property owner James Komendera founded the group “Preserve Old Mission” and brought legal action, noting that the character, density and environmental impact of the proposed project was inconsistent with the Old Mission Peninsula and the standards of the Zoning Ordinance.

In January of 2016, 13th Circuit Court Judge Philip Rogers ruled against the developer, citing proper soil erosion studies and emergency fire road issues. A public hearing for “The 81” was scheduled for May 10, 2016; however, at that time, the developer’s attorney, Phillip Settles (replacing attorney Joseph Quandt, who withdrew because of issues surrounding his business relationship with Township Supervisor Pete Correia), requested that the public hearing take place at a later date.

The new Plat Subdivision Plan is a “use by right,” which means it’s a use permitted in a zoning district and is therefore not subject to special review and approval by a local government.

At the public hearing last night, Reardon noted that this is a very preliminary plan and no decision would be made at this point.

Several Peninsula Township residents, as well as Scott Howard, attorney for Komendera, spoke at the public hearing, citing concerns over traffic, erosion, soil toxicity from previous farming on the land, and septic issues if the lots didn’t perc.

Township resident Brit Eaton said he’s very concerned about the traffic, especially combined with the Vineyard Ridge development on the south end of the Peninsula. “We’ve got 53 homes here,” he noted, “and we’ve got 42 down at Vineyard Ridge. So we’ve got 93-plus vehicles times two cars in each household, times five trips a day. So you’ve got pretty close to 900 to 1000 trips a day over this road that we see is already crowded.”

Eaton added, “Somebody’s going to get hurt on these roads. In the spirit of the Master Plan, there’s way too much traffic, and you should consider denying this project.”

Here’s a look at Pre-Preliminary Plat Subdivision Plan for “The 81 on East Bay.” Click the image for a larger view, and leave thoughts in the comments section below.

81, public hearing, preliminary plat subdivision
The 81 Pre-Preliminary Plat Subdivision

SUPPORT YOUR INDEPENDENT LOCAL NEWSPAPER: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever. Thank you so much for your support! -Jane Boursaw, Editor/Publisher, Old Mission Gazette

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation.

Bay View Insurance of Traverse City Michigan


  1. what part of “use by right” do the non development movement not understand? now they were given more time to plan and will get another 12 lots! they should have said “Thank you for the tax base and putting an abandoned parcel to highest and best use”

    • It’s such a fine line to allow land owners to do what they want with their land – “use by right” – while still keeping the rural character of the Peninsula. I believe there’s some middle ground there. Are we mainly looking for the tax base? If that’s true, then every square inch of the Peninsula that can be developed will be developed. And I’m not sure that putting that many homes on that pristine parcel of land is the “best use” (for ME, “best use” would be somehow turning that 81-acre parcel into a conservation area with trails and quiet areas). But that doesn’t seem likely at this juncture. I’m not saying there should be no homes there. I’m saying create a neighborhood that reflects the rural character of the Peninsula. Do we want it to look like Bloomfield Hills?

  2. It appears that this developer has no room for compromise and negotiation and has no values other than making the most money. A reasonable developer would work with all of us to develop the land with less houses and more attention to preservation of its natural beauty for all of us. His previous attorney held the veiled threat of use by right over those of us who protested the PUD application last year. Why not now work out a compromise with the Conservancy, the developer and the township? But I doubt that will happen at this point. Too many egos involved. So those of us who live near this parcel will have poisoned water, air and soil , traffic and deteriorated roads and homes will still not be built. It took over 15 years to the adjacent Cove to be developed and it STILL is not filled. Use by right means rape by right. The developer and the township should be ashamed

    • That would be amazing if the Conservancy, developer and township could work together on a plan. I mean, why can’t that happen?! Because I live in a fantasy world where stuff like that happens, that’s why. And you’re right – it’s taken a long, long time for The Cove to be developed, and yeah, it’s still a work in progress. That’s a good example of a parcel where more could have been done to make it more aesthetically pleasing instead of a hot field. How about a tree or two? Maybe a pond? A little wooded park area with a playground for kids?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Please enter an e-mail address

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.