By: Katy Barth
Throughout its history, land in Lansing Township has been picked apart by nearby cities.
In 1842, Lansing Township was 36 square miles like other townships that were settled.
“It’s kind of an abstract unit of measurement when they were surveying the land,” said Matt Brinkley, senior planner for Lansing Township.
The resulting size was thought to be a reasonable distance for horses to travel, said former Lansing Township Supervisor John Daher.
Since being established, Lansing Township has been decreased to 4.9 square miles of five, unconnected parcels of land. This happened through annexation, a process that separates a section of land from a township and joins it to a city.
Annexation is filed with the State Boundary Commission if the petition is by:
resolution by the city council
owners of at least 75 percent of the land potentially being annexed
at least 20 percent of the registered voters of the land potentially being annexed or
at least 1 percent of the property owners in the affected township and city
Peoplepetition for an annexation when there’s an advantage in joining a different township, such as having a better access to a water supply or wanting to develop a piece of land not being used, Brinkley said.
Michigan State University, East Lansing and the City of Lansing have all taken land from Lansing Township.
“The township, in history, has dealt with handling these takings and we still survive,” said Daher.
Township Supervisor Kathleen Rodgers said a good chunk of Michigan State University was created out of Lansing Township due to the Land Grant College Act.
“The administration building sits on what was once Lansing Township and so does the music building,” said Rodgers.
Rodgers said the university operates the land without the township’s involvement since it has been annexed.
The last annexation started in 1981 and lasted three years, said Daher. Lansing Township’s planning board was interested in developing north of the Eastwood area.
However, getting sewer and water to the area was too expensive for the township’s budget. East Lansing had the funding so it annexed the property, capturing the resulting new tax base.
Brinkley said East Lansing might have said they could only provide those services if the annexation occurred.
Not all of the land the township lost was severed by annexation.
The city of Lansing gained land from the township when the capitol was moved from Detroit to Lansing, said Bob Johnson, director of Lansing planning and neighborhood development.
In 1847, the legislature moved the capitol into Lansing Township and renamed the area Michigan, Michigan.
“That could get pretty confusing,” said Johnson while laughing.
In 1848, the capital was renamed Lansing.
Brinkley and Daher said further annexation is unlikely.
“Both East Lansing and Lansing would benefit fiscally from annexing from Lansing Township, but I don’t see much opportunity for that to happen,” said Brinkley.
Brinkley said people don’t see a lot of additional values in having their property annexed by Lansing or East Lansing since those cities property rates are higher.
“They would pay twice as much in property just for the honor of saying they live in the city of Lansing or East Lansing,” said Brinkley. “They really can’t do any better by becoming a part of East Lansing or the city of Lansing. So it’s not a great deal.”
Daher said the town has been hurt by annexation and doesn’t want to it to happen again.
Since Daher is not an elected official anymore he said he can’t speak for the board, but he said pride alone would make it very difficult to give up any portion of land that exists in Lansing Township today. Good observation
An act in 1984 has made it to where townships and cities can make arrangements for co-ownerships. Daher said this is how the Waverly Golf course is managed. He also said that even though Lansing wants full ownership to develop it, Lansing Township controls zoning and planning.
“Every time you’re annexed something is taken from you,” said Daher. “A little bit of history and, what I think is most important, is a little bit of your pride.”