A story of stumps, crops and zoning
Bill Clous says he's a farmer who wants to raise crops on 360 acres of damp, rolling fields in East Bay Township.
But Clous also is one of the region's biggest residential developers, and a recent township zoning overhaul could allow him to build 2,000 homes and an industrial park on land where authorities allege he willfully damaged wetlands and violated numerous environmental laws.
The collection of family farms Clous assembled over the past 20 years north of Hammond Road and between Townline and Three Mile roads will stay in farming, he said.
"My honest intention is to farm it for at least 10 years," Clous recently told the Record-Eagle. "(But) nothing's etched in stone."
Clous to build on land he pledged to farm
Clous plans to build hundreds of subsidized senior citizen apartments, as well as a commercial development, on property he cleared and scoured and pledged to farm for a decade.
The project on a 54-acre parcel will include 360 apartments in three, three-story buildings and 120 rooms in an assisted-living facility bordered by about 10 acres of commercial development off Three Mile Road.
In 2004, Clous agreed to a consent judgment with Grand Traverse County and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to settle a lawsuit over allegations he illegally bulldozed wetlands on 360 acres there. Clous said the land was being prepared for farming.