A new yurt resort could be built within a few blocks of the Lake Michigan Shoreline if South Haven resident Joe Ashen can get his plan approved by local officials. A yurt is a circular tent on a collapsible framework and has become popular for those looking to experience nature with some of the amenities of home.

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If his plan is approved by the South Haven Planning Commission, he will be working with engineers and a yurt manufacturer to erect 15-20 yurts on the property that's less than a half-mile from Lake Michigan. His plan would include the preservation of many of the property's trees, some of which may be hundreds of years old.

He tells WOOD TV that he wants to maintain the natural beauty of the area he grew up in as a child and keep it away from developers who have offered him a lot of money for the property:

The kids decided after the parents passed away that they didn’t want the property, so I bought it. It’s a special place to me. That’s why I want to save it. They (developers) want to give me a lot of money for it, but they’re going to chop all the trees down...I’d rather save a tree than build an extra yurt.

Ashen says that he was inspired on a business trip to Colorado. While there he visited a yurt and had friends lay out the positives for him, including the access to the outdoors and nature.

Ashen has long been a proponent for the preservation of nature in the city. In 1999 he was in favor of turning a 38-acre parcel into a nature preserve, and in 2011 he was part of a group that opposed clear-cutting trees for a road-widening project.

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