Thorntree Commons at Suttons Bay
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Our Vision

More Information

WHO WE ARE
THORNTREE GUIDELINES
MASTER DEED & BYLAWS
THORNTREE SITE PLAN
LEED AND SUSTAINABILITY
PRESS RELEASE: 3/13/06

Conceptual Designs

OPEN LETTER TO ARCHITECTS
DESIGN: JANA K. VANDER GOOT

Articles

WHY BUILD GREEN?
TEN PRINCIPLES
DR. JONG-JIN KIM: EXCERPTS
A VISIT TO TRYON FARM
LETTER FROM HANNA DONIGER
A SOLAR ENVELOPE HOME
HYBRID HOMES
CONSIDERING LEED FOR HOMES

Who We Are


My name is David Bahle. I grew up in Suttons Bay, Michigan, a small village on the eastern shore of the Leelanau Peninsula on Grand Traverse Bay, about 14 miles North of Traverse City. My family had been there since the 1860s, but I left the area to attend the University Of Michigan in Ann Arbor, then stayed in southern Michigan to follow new career paths and for the sake of new relationships and locales.

THE ROAD TO THORNTREE

In early 2003, I had not considered the possibility of being a land developer. In the early 80s my wife Jean and I, wishing to stay connected to my place of origin, had purchased a parcel of land that was part of one of the Bahle farms and had belonged to my family for four generations. This was as much out of nostalgia as it was any focused investment plan; the farm in question was the first home my father had with his siblings when they were reunited in the 1930s. I knew this land and its twenty-three plus acres well. As kids, its wooded hills were our regular playground.

Over the succeeding twenty years Jean and I made a couple of other purchases of adjoining land. In 2004, The sale of my interest in a small tool and die company had provided me with a financial cushion until I went on to my next career, and we wanted to see how the land could be divided and sold, leaving a site for ourselves to build a home in Suttons Bay. We discovered that the number of land divisions required to meet our needs would, by definition, create a development. Ipso facto, I was a developer.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

What we do with this land will impact all those who follow, and we see it as a place to be respectfully enjoyed for as many generations as possible. As a developer, I feel a special obligation to examine my environmental commitments and how they may impact my surroundings as well as future generations. How can we take what we value and make it a part of a community? What can we do with this land both to create a home for ourselves and to ensure that it reflects what we believe is important? How can we protect this land yet shape it so that it may invite others who share our values?

Fortunately for us, there is already in place in Suttons Bay Township a commitment to environmental preservation and a forward-looking land use plan so that in the process of inevitable growth, we may retain as much of what we admire and cherish about the surrounding natural environment as possible. So in that spirit, it is our intention to create a residential community on the western village edge, just south of Broadway Street.

RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT

In the more technical parlance, this is a development consisting of clustered, single-detached homes, setting aside as open space approximately fifty percent of the acreage. Home sites will be thoughtfully defined by way of setbacks to enhance privacy, and the footprint size of all sites will be thoughtfully limited to encourage energy conservation. The common areas will, in perpetuity, provide a buffer and preserve for the natural wooded areas, ensuring both the community's members and those around it that its beauty will be retained. For the sake of long-term social benefit (as well as greater personal return for investors), the architectural guidelines will encourage state-of-the-art energy systems with an emphasis on conservation. Smaller, creative use of space as well as high-quality design, materials and construction will be emphasized over the "McMansion" style of development so prevalent today (for more detailed information about Thorntree's building requirements, please see the Guidelines page).

We have been in conversation with friends, family and others about Thorntree and its possibilities. We've been pleased and encouraged by the positive, enthusiastic response. I look forward to the creation of this community with its direct connection to the Village, a great asset. I cannot imagine a better setting than a home in the wooded hills and a short walk to all the amenities that a beautiful town like Suttons Bay has to offer.