Many of the goals of the SDCA evolved out of The Tri-Community Plan that originated in 1987-1989. Many different citizens took part in helping to develop this plan over several decades. The first step began with a survey of area leaders. The second step involved surveys mailed to every single property owner in Saugatuck, Douglas, and Saugatuck Township. Given the length of time it took to complete the survey (over one hour), the response rate of 40% was considered very high.

In 2004 the surveys were used to identify key issues for discussion at a town meeting. The draft was then refined though a series of meetings with area officials and then presented to the public in a second town meeting. Further comments were reviewed by officials from each community and incorporated into the final Tri-Community Comprehensive Plan. It was published in June 2005 and updated in 2016.

To Download the 188 page PDF of the Tri-Community Comprehensive Plan, click here.

Here are a few of our favorite excerpts from The Tri-Community Comprehensive Plan:

“Sensitive lands can be protected by purchase, purchase of easements or development rights, transfer of development rights, donation and regulation.”
—Tri-Community Plan, Section 7-17

“Tourists have always been attracted to the area, but tourism is now the number one economic activity. Today’s waterfront activities are dominated by tourist and pleasure craft needs, especially sailboats, powerboat, charter fishing boats and other tourist boats. Consequently, how the waterfront is used will be of crucial importance to the future of the Tri-Community area.”
—Tri-Community Plan, Section 8-1

“Although waterfront lands have a high revenue generating potential, a major attraction of both the Lake Michigan and Kalamazoo River waterfronts is their scenic, natural shorelines composed of forested sand dunes and large wetland areas. Should these natural areas be greatly damaged or destroyed through inappropriate development, then the ‘goose that laid the golden egg’ will be dead.”
—Tri-Community Plan, Section 8-2

“Sensitive dune ecosystems also occur in the dune areas on either side of the Kalamazoo River mouth at Lake Michigan. This area is planned for protection but details have yet to be finalized.”
—Tri-Community Plan, Section 8-6

“Several vistas have public values that deserve protection. These include the entry into and exit from Lake Michigan on the Kalamazoo River, the view from Mount Bald head, the view of the Kalamazoo River from both ends, and approaches to the Kalamazoo River Bridge.”
—Tri-Community Plan, Section 8-26

“Other natural resource areas include sand dunes, wetlands, floodplains, streams, creeks and drains, the Kalamazoo River, and areas at high risk of erosion along Lake Michigan. These areas are proposed for very limited future development in keeping with their fragility and importance . . . Destroying these resources would destroy the essential qualities which continue to attract resident and tourists to the area. If conserved and wisely used, waterways and farms will become a natural greenbelt system that continues to enhance the area for years to come.”
—Tri-Community Plan, Section 10-4

“The northwest corner of the Township, along with the most of the land in Saugatuck west of the Kalamazoo lake should be preserved for public open space and the portion that remains in private ownership should be maintained for low intensity uses (like the art colony and church camp).”
—Tri-Community Plan, Section 10-7

“Public acquisition of the Denison property on both sides of the Kalamazoo River is the top priority for the Tri-Communities.”
—Tri-Community Plan, Section 13-2

“Specific priority recommendations in the Township of Saugatuck include: Examination of the zoning boundaries and appropriate range of permitted uses, including mixed use of property along Blue Star Highway. Pay special attention to not inadvertently undermining the integrity of exitsting local businesses in the City of Saugatuck and the City of the Village of Douglas.”
—Tri-Community Plan, Section 13-4

“Protect the natural environment of the area… Protect the visual quality of and visual access to the waterfront.”
—Tri-Community Plan, Section 13-5

“Encourage high quality commercial development to locate adjacent to existing commercial development and only where planned and zoned for it.”
—Tri-Community Plan, Section 13-7