Marquette campground looks to expand facilities

CURRAN

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Planning Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a conditional use permit application and site plan for additional campsites and a new bathhouse at a campground along M-553.

Planning Commissioners Tony Ruiz and Erick Brooks were excused from the meeting.

Mark Curran, owner of Rippling River Resort, said the intent is to add 20 electrical hook-up campsites and a community-style bathhouse to the campground, which is situated near Marquette Mountain.

In November, the city finalized the sale of Parcel 35, which consists of 20.39 acres of heavily tree-covered property, to Rippling River Resort/Curran & Co. for a one-time fee of $153,000. The parcel is part of the Heartwood Forestland and is adjacent to the Noquemanon Trail Network’s south trailhead.

The surrounding area is presently comprised of undeveloped land except for recreational trails and the Marquette Mountain ski hill property to the south.

Before the city sold the parcel, Curran agreed to work with the NTN to help maintain trails during development of the property.

“We feel that a campground is the ultimate recreation spot for residents of Marquette or any visitors to enjoy this beautiful piece of property,” Curran said in a letter to the commission. “We have made strategic efforts not to disrupt as much of the land as possible.”

Curran said he’s been in contact with members of the NTN to improve existing trails that run through the property.

“We are also considering possibly working with them to add a trail for easier access,” he said.

Curran told the planning commission Tuesday that the plan calls for “limited tree removal.”

“We want to keep the trees as much as possible. Hopefully you’ve seen where we’ve tried tree spading as many as we can down in the lower area that was the old gravel pit. We’ll keep doing that as much as we can,” he said. “There’s a little over 20 acres there, we’re only developing approximately 5 acres.

“The city, under our contract to purchase the property, is going to put a little over 500 acres into conservation. This is a great deal for Marquette.”

After the city announced it was seeking potential buyers of several Heartwood Forestland parcels with the intent to pay back property debt, many people voiced concerns that some of the parcels are adjacent to NTN trails. Curran said he initially purchased the property because he wanted to help save the trails.

“From what I can tell, we’re not touching any trails. We’re close in a couple areas where the stormwater pond needed to be a little bit bigger, but our intention is to not touch any trails,” he said. “I think the NTN wants to move a couple of trails, but we’ve been working together really well — it’ll only get better now.”

Planning Commissioner Sarah Mittlefehldt said the site plan looks great.

“It seems like a great use of that space and, like you said, it’s a good deal that we’re expanding conservation,” she said.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.