SAUGATUCK (WWJ/AP) – Plans are moving forward that could combine the southwestern Michigan tourist towns of Saugatuck and Douglas.

The State Boundary Commission on Wednesday approved an earlier a merger recommendation.

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The merger recommendation goes to the director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to consider the decision. If approved, the merger recommendation will have to be turned into a local ballot issue. A vote could take place next year.

The cities have a combined population of about 2,100. There had been discussion about including Allegan County’s Saugatuck Township in the merger, but that was dropped.

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Supporters of the merger say it would help the communities with tourism and provide one government to preserve the Kalamazoo River harbor.

The cities already share police, fire, library and sewer and water services.

Both cities are favorites of metro Detroiters who flock to the state’s western coast to spend sunny summer days along the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan.

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