By Ryan Squanda
The Lansing Star
Take a walk outside Kevin Henry’s home at 1517 Herbert Street in Lansing and you will see the abandoned property which has worried Henry for the last two months.
Specifically what worries Henry when he steps outside his home is the abandoned property that has just been purchased by the owner of LeRoy’s Classic Bar and Grill, LeRoy Cardwell.
Cardwell, whose restaurant sits directly behind both Henry’s and the adjacent property, bought the land in May in hopes expanding his parking lot, which he says isn’t big enough to serve his growing number of patrons.
“Times have changed,” Cardwell said at the Lansing City Council meeting Monday night, arguing that his bar is no longer what he calls a “factory and neighborhood” bar, and that these days people must drive to his bar.
“If I had continued as a factory bar, I would probably not be in business right now. I needed to go in a different direction. I did a major renovation of both inside and out. It was a success. It saved my business.”
However, following his restaurant’s renovations, Cardwell realized he did not have enough parking. So when the property at 1521 Herbert Street went up for sale, he said he had no choice but to purchase the lot.
On Aug. 6 of this year, Cardwell was denied by the Lansing Planning Board to expand his parking lot onto the 1521 property. But at Monday’s Lansing City Council meeting, both Cardwell and his wife Jeane Ann, in addition to Henry, were all in attendance to plead their respective cases.
From Henry’s perspective, if the parking lot were to be built, he fears his property will lose value.
“There’s lights, there’s noise. There’s everything that, because there’s no trees, no fence, nothing to buffer the sound,” Henry said. “The bar closes sometimes at 2 o’clock sometimes 3 o’clock … With the addition of the parking lot, there will be more lights shining in my house, traffic going through … illegal things going on in the parking lot.”
A previous buffer zone of several trees and a fence between the bar and the property have already been taken out. Even though Cardwell says he plans to rebuild another buffer zone, Henry fears the worst.
“To me, big business is putting the little man out on the street,” said Henry, a police officer in Michigan for 15 years, and a military vet for 15 years before that. “I don’t think a lot of people know that the little person is getting squeezed out. They’re squeezing me out. And I don’t see that it’s right. I don’t have thousands and thousands of dollars to get lawyers. I’m just a little person trying to do right.”
The issue was scheduled for further discussion at the Development and Planning committee meeting on Oct. 15. Out of that meeting, the committee will make a recommendation to the Lansing City Council and a decision will be made from there.