Brooks Planning Commission gives the go-ahead for Smuggler’s At North Shore
By Ken DeLaat, N3 News
They began filing into the building a half hour prior to the special meeting of the Brooks Township Planning Commission meeting Monday evening. By the time Commission Chair Mark Guzniczak opened the proceedings about 100 folks, mostly from the Hess Lake community, packed the room. They were there to await the decision on the proposed construction of a new restaurant on the lakeside site that has been empty since the 2018 fire that destroyed the former Smuggler’s Cove.
The first to speak was Raeanne Huskey and her brother Nathan Thompson who are part of Team Thompson, the group who endeavor to make the lakeside eatery a reality. She described the plans and outlined the concepts for the proposed restaurant. Beyond the description of the building she spoke to her family’s commitment to the community.
“We want to provide good paying jobs to people so they don’t have to drive to Grand Rapids to get work. We love this community and feel this would not only benefit the lake residents but will be a destination spot for others coming into our area.”
Timothy Stoepker the attorney representing James and Laurieanne Knape who live next door to the site presented the argument in opposition to the special use permit required for the project to go forward citing discrepancies as to the size of the proposed building as well as other enhancements that would go well beyond the original building area.
Then came public comment.
A dozen folks approached the commission and voiced support, not only for the project, but for the Thompson family who received accolades for their responsive customer service, the redo of the Hess Lake Party Store as well as their history of giving back to the community. Each speaker received applause for their comments and each spoke of their desire to see the restaurant become a reality.
And finally, the vote.
In a roll call of the commission it was a unanimous approval for the Special Use Permit and the Site Plan Review Application.
Followed by a resounding round of applause along with a couple of cheers tossed in for good measure.
We caught up with Raeanne Huskey following the meeting.
“We can’t express enough how grateful we are for everyone that showed up with their support tonight. Your kind and encouraging words were unexpected and moving.
“We are ready to move forward with this project. Our family is thrilled to bring a fresh new destination restaurant to Newaygo. Newaygo is a hidden gem in Michigan. We want to breathe new life into our community, create new career opportunities, have a fare and atmosphere that rivals bigger cities, and really showcase all the awesome things Newaygo has to offer.
“From our family to our community, Thanks for standing behind our dream!!”