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The Docks Part 2: Save Bluffton

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According to residents, The Bluffton neighborhood is a tight knit community, where everyone pretty much knows everyone. Its’ one of Muskegon’s oldest neighborhoods, if not the oldest—and the neighborhood lies between Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan. 

It’s here that many residents have chosen to live out their retirement years, and one can see why. Everywhere you look you see little bungalow houses, and sailboats, and signs that read ‘gone fishing.’ And according to residents, Buster Keaton, the famous silent film actor, called Bluffton “his favorite place in the world to visit.”

It’s a neighborhood that has kept its identity for over a hundred years, which is why a number of residents say a new upscale housing development in the works called “The Docks” next door would forever change the identity and character of Bluffton.

I travel there to meet Dr. Mark Poletti, who retired and moved there around 7 years ago. There’s a sign posted in his front yard—it reads “Save Bluffton.”

“Bluffton is just a beautiful, peaceful, wonderful place with beautiful views and a very old community here,” Poletti said. “And to just see it being sold off, the people’s voices aren’t being heard, we feel like we have been thrown under the bus.”

The project would be built on what is left of Pigeon Hill, a sand dune that lies directly north of Bluffton. While developers own the land, Bluffton residents have been using the sand dune as a park for decades. Mark takes me out there and I get why residents wouldn't want to lose this.

“Mark, it's a little slice of heaven isn't it?" I ask.

"Yeah it's beautiful isn’t it?" he says. 

John Edlund is a Bluffton resident who is walking his dogs along the beach. He says to lose the dune would hurt.

“It would bother me a lot,” Edlund says. “This used to be Pigeon Hill, the gigantic dune that they fought years ago to stop them from tearing that down. But they did,  and they made a lot of money, and now they are trying to make more money." 

And residents say, its not just the loss of the dune, it’s also that building 240 luxurious housing units with only one entry point will flood Bluffton with traffic and turn the quiet roads that residents use to walk and bike on into busy streets. And a number of residents argue, that the city of Muskegon has yet to conduct a legitimate traffic study.

Then there’s the environmental concerns of building on a sand dune, which, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy has not yet addressed, though, the EGLE Department plans to.

Ben Evans was raised in Bluffton. When I ask him about The Docks, he shakes his head.

“I think what is happening in Bluffton with “The Docks” is a microcosm of what is happening in this country,” Evans said. “Where a few individuals, wealthy individuals, in the interest of financial gain, are making decisions that harm a number of people.”