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Zoning “Controls are placed on the development and use of such areas so as to preserve the Shoreline and critical sand dune areas as natural resources, to preserve the areas of historic importance as protected historic sites, to prevent and/or control erosion, and to maintain the aesthetic and historical qualities of the area.
—R-4 Lakeshore Open Space Zoned DistrictMap provided by Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society

Zoning is one of the most significant ways to foster community development and land use practices that conserve energy, land, historical, and natural resources. Simply put, zoning laws protect residents and businesses from arbitrarily having to live or do business next door to things such as noisy nightclubs, truck stops, or hazardous dumps that were not there when the property was purchased.

In general, clear and consistent zoning laws offer many benefits:

  • good zoning shields the public from arbitrary development and sprawl;
  • good zoning protects the land values of property owners;
  • good zoning provides for appropriate and consistent land use by establishing a clear process and protocol for development.

There are three parts necessary to the implementation of good zoning: clear and consistent zoning laws based on a Master Plan, a careful and deliberate zoning board, and a concerned and engaged citizenry.

The more restrictive zoning in the Saugatuck Dunes at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River developed over several decades of community input following a deliberate process; cost the taxpayers significant time, energy, and money; and honors the extraordinary value to our local economy of the resources found there.

What follows is a brief timeline of Saugatuck Township’s R-4 Lakeshore Open Space Zoned District:

Initially, R-4 zoning evolved out of the Tri-Community Comprehensive Plan. Then, Saugatuck Township held transparent public meetings and offered a public comment period over the course of many months. Mr. McClendon’s representatives were present at these public meetings.

In May 2006, Saugatuck Township unanimously passed the R-4 Lakeshore Open Space Zoned District. Two of Mr. McClendon’s lawyers participated in the final meeting, and thus were legally notified. The Allegan County Planning Commission also unanimously approved R-4 zoning in May of 2006.

Even though most real estate transactions have an out clause specifically designed to allow the buyer to cancel the contract, Mr. McClendon chose to buy the land anyway knowing about the zoning change. Mr. McClendon finalized his purchase in June 2006.

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