CASS CITY — Whether a methane digester, “Extreme Sandbox,” drag racing strip, housing or other kind of mixed-use development altogether, a local businessman plans to redevelop a 32-acre Cass City golf course – and create jobs.
Frank Stoup III bought the former Mulligan’s Irish Links – a 9-hole course – in June 2014.
He continued to operate the course for 2014 and 2015 (renaming it “The Hawk”) and still books the place for private “foot golf” events.
But he told The Advertiser Tuesday he has much bigger plans for the 32 acres – and is exploring several different options, including a racing strip on part of the land.
“The other thing we’re looking at is what’s called an ‘Extreme Sandbox,’” Stoup said. “It was on the show Shark Tank…it’s a company that has (full-sized) construction equipment and you can run around with it and play with it like toys. It might be that.”
According to MichganGolf.com, the former Mulligan’s Irish Links golf course, 4795 Hospital Dr, opened in 1991 and was designed by Joe Howard. About half of the property is in Elkland Township zoned for agricultural use and half in Cass City zoned for multi-family housing.
Stoup bought the land for $105,000, according to a deed recorded July 29, 2014 by the Tuscola County Register of Deeds.
Stoup said publicly at the time that he planned to run the golf course through the end of the 2015 season. “We’re now looking at what are the things we can do with that land, with those attributes, and make the best use of that land,” Stoup said.
Stoup said as of Tuesday, no permit or zoning applications have been filed for any kind of new business at the site, which is zoned for agriculture use in Elkland Township and residential housing for the part that touches Cass City.
Stoup said he – with assistance from the Tuscola County Economic Development Corp. – held a meeting last October to see if there was interest in a methane digester for the part of the property in Elkland Township.
Such digesters capture methane gas produced by manure when heated over a certain period, which can then be used to produce electricity.
Attendants at the meeting included representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and DTE Energy, Stoup said. A total of about 25 people attended.
“Nobody in that room said it was a bad idea,” Stoup said. “In fact, most people said it was a great idea.”
Stoup said with affirmation from the group that such a project would be viable, he began working to determine next steps to make it reality. Ultimately, he said he learned he would have to get a special use permit from Elkland Township and approval from the Tuscola County Drain Commissioner.
Robert Mantey, drain commissioner, Tuscola County, sent a letter dated March 31 to Stoup in response to the developer’s inquiry.
The letter was made public by inclusion in the Cass City Village Council packet Monday.
Mantey told Stoup that relocating about 2,300 feet of drain would require approval of the special use permits from Elkland Township and Cass City along with an extensive list of other requirements, including “a request of a 100 year flow rate for (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality), survey of existing drain route and proposed drain route, delineation of regulated wetland, stream and floodplains, complete endangered species review” and more.
Stoup said he didn’t understand why it was included in the Cass City Village Council packet at this stage of the game.
“I will assure you that nothing has been done,” Stoup said.
Nancy Barrios, council member, Cass City Village Council, said she has heard talk of a methane digester at the site and doesn’t believe it’s a good fit for the area that is near medical care and senior living facilities.
“It may very well be a good idea, but not in that location,” Barrios said. “There are a lot of farmers and maybe he finds a large plot of land that’s secluded and doesn’t have a lot of residential area surrounding it.”
Stoup said that when he bought the land in mid-2014, he went and met with Peter Cristiano, village manager, Cass City, and asked “what would you think the community would like to see here?”
“A year-and-a-half later, I don’t have any suggested things they would like to see here so it’s up to me,” Stoup said.
Stoup, 65, who said he retired to Tuscola County after a successful career as an entrepreneur, also indicated that he remains open to ideas for the site.
“I’m not from this area and I don’t accept the status quo mentality about how you develop property,” Stoup said. “I believe you should look at the attributes of property and say ‘How can we maximize the value of this property?’”
Andrew Dietderich is editor of The Advertiser and can be reached at email@example.com