Planning Commission mulling over proposed site development

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published May 28, 2016


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — A local businessman is planning to expand his reputation in the local boat sales and service trade with a proposed new marina development on an area of vacant land at the northeast corner of Metropolitan Parkway and Prentiss Street.

During a May 19 Harrison Township Planning Commission Meeting, Tom Raguso, owner of Sundog Marina/Sun Sport Marine on South River Road, presented his vision for a piece of 795 feet of frontage just west of Lake St. Clair Metropark.

Raguso was joined by Ted Whittlesey, a commercial Realtor with Whittlesey Development out of New Baltimore.

But some nearby residents voiced some concerns about the boat sales and service facility, namely changing the habitat and natural look of the area, and increased traffic and noise.

Prentiss Street resident Chris Lanzon suggested a traffic study be completed so the commission can get a better idea of just how the proposed development would impact the area.

“Prentiss (a dirt road) right now probably sees more traffic than any other side street in Harrison Township,” he said, adding that the proposed plan would bring both more commercial traffic and vehicles towing large boats. “And the speed limit is not enforced. I have a friend who lives at the corner (at Helzer Street), and he gets three to four cars in his ditch a year. And the traffic during the summer turns everything into a dust bowl.”

Others in attendance told individual stories about why they chose to move to Harrison Township. Because of the abundance of green space and a comparatively and relatively low number of shopping plazas, they believe this new development would decrease the natural beauty of the area, increase wear and tear on the roads, decrease wildlife in the area, bring an increase in noise pollution, and create a hazard for children who wait for the school bus at Prentiss Pointe Apartments.

Justin Saputo, a resident of nearby Nautical Lane, echoed that sentiment and suggested Raguso look at utilizing an already vacated building.

Saputo added that many people living in the residential neighborhoods west of Metropolitan Parkway often use his street instead of Prentiss Street because of its rocky condition, many of them traveling well over the posted speed limit.

“My wife and I moved to Harrison Township not because it’s ‘Boat Town USA,’ but because it’s ‘Small Town USA,’” he said. “There’s something much more than commercial to be lost.”

Raguso, a resident of Harrison Township for 24 years, has rented the site where Sundog/Sun Sport currently operates for approximately 10 years. He said it’s time to expand.

“It’s time to take the showroom up to the next level,” he said. “We run a very first-class operation, a very professional operation.”

Entry into Sun Sport’s sales and service area would be off of Prentiss. Recommendations to the plan also included a “No Through Traffic” sign and a “No Right Turn” sign at the exit of the establishment.

The marina would have a nautical theme, and would meet landscaping and Fire Department requirements. The planned hours of operation are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays.

John DeWald, of Principal Associates out of Southfield, the company selling the land, said there are four lots for sale on that site, up to the adjacent cul-de-sac, ranging from 1.2 to 1.5 acres. Lot prices range from $250,000 to $350,000.

He said the site, zoned commercial, is large enough to accommodate a large box-type retail chain like Costco.

The Planning Commission tabled its vote for the go-ahead to begin construction on the new sales and service center until its June 16 meeting.