About Decatur Northwest


Decatur Northwest is a planned community established in 1983. Located on 600 acres in the San Juan Islands, it stretches over two miles of shorefront and beaches. The approach of the developers, Phil Sherburne and Jim Youngren, was to highlight the preservation of the property’s natural beauty. The 90+ building sites comprise a fraction of the acreage of Decatur Northwest. The remaining acres, including the entire waterfront, are owned in common by all community members. This approach assures the preservation of the land in its natural state. Their vision received widespread attention and praise from site owners and government officials. The Decatur Northwest property is fortunate to have an abundance of fresh water. All sites are connected for water, electricity, sewer and fire protection. All utilities are underground. Decatur Northwest was developed with an eye to preserving the environment and encouraging appropriate architectural design to highlight this awareness. Since 1982, many homes have been built for owners emphasizing this critical approach. Design guidelines clearly define the neighborhood style recommendation as well as allowing for individual expression. Award winning architects are well represented at Decatur Northwest.

The Community

The owners of Decatur Northwest have in common a respect for the value of open space and preservation of wildlife habitat and environment. Recycling, conservation of resources and an emphasis on common sense and shared duties are evident within the community. There is an underlying feeling of cooperation and respect for privacy and retreat. Shared ownership of property means the land will forever be protected from further development – a legacy of which to be proud. The DNW Community Association is a nonprofit corporation that owns all the common property and equipment of the community. A Board of Directors provides the direction for policy decisions, management of staff and budget implementation. A Design Review Committee reviews and approves all building plans. Each site is assessed a monthly fee to cover operating costs and to build a capital reserve fund.

Protected Cove with Private Boat Facilities

Sylvan Cove is a protected deep-water cove with a piling dock and 175 ft. year round floating dock. The dock and mooring buoys are available for community members’ use. Community rowboats are available for use as well.

Private Passenger Ferry to the Mainland

The community’s ferry operates (on a set schedule by reservation only) between Anacortes and Sylvan Cove at Decatur Northwest. The community owns a one-acre parking lot and 65 ft. boat slip at Skyline Marina in Anacortes.

Caretaker and Manager

Security is enhanced by the presence of staff whose responsibilities include watching over property and homes, operating the fire truck, maintaining vehicles and grounds, managing the ferry schedule and handling (on a fee for services basis) arrangements for firewood delivery, water pipe drainage, window washing, minor repairs and other services. The caretaker’s residence is located on Sylvan Cove.

Community Buildings

The community utility building located near Sylvan Cove contains a laundry room, bath with shower facilities, workshop, and storage for community vehicles and fire truck. Near the upper garden is a community building perfect for group picnics with a barbeque area, restroom, and sink.

The Environs

Decatur Northwest’s property is vast and diverse in topography, vegetation and outlooks. Within the 600 acres, there is farmland that was homesteaded around the turn of the century with a log barn, orchards and split rail fences. There is pastureland for the resident flock of sheep and deer; woodlands bursting with wildflowers; open highland meadows with sweeping views to the straits and rock outcroppings stepping down to salt water. There are miles of secluded hiking trails and rocky beaches for beachcombing.