BY: AMANDA CHODNICKI
LANSING STAR STAFF WRITER
LANSING- Lansing City Council held a public hearing Monday in response to a request from the Vietnamese American Buddhist Association of Lansing to use property on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
The association requested to move its church from its current location on South Washington to the vacant property at 3015 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
“This location would provide a much larger setting for them, more adequate parking, a safer setting and allow them to perform other things beyond their church service,” said Brian Jefferies, council member at-large. “They host an English as a second language service as well as other socialization activities within the Vietnamese community facility.”
Church members’ perspectives
President Kyle Lee of the Vietnamese American Buddhist Association of Lansing had an attorney to speak on his behalf since English is not his primary language.
His attorney said what the church wishes to provide its members and the larger community is a facility with more resources for the Vietnamese population in Lansing.
Members of the church also spoke out.
“We need a new, safer facility, especially for the kids,” said Phat Truong, the Buddhist Family Youth Group senior leader. “I think the kids are the future for this community.”
He also said they need to provide better social and educational services for their kids and the community as a whole. But beyond that, he said the most important thing is the children’s safety.
“The new property would allow for safer entrance and exit at night,” Lee’s attorney said. “There are no other buildings that surround it and obstruct the view of the building, so it’s safer for the members.”
Property owner’s thoughts
Tobin Westin, the owner of the proposed new site, said VABAL tendered the best offer they have received yet.
“There is no financial gain for us. It really is a loss for us,” said Westin. “But I do believe it is the best outcome for the building and that property in that neighborhood.”
Jeffries said that the planning staff and planning board both recommended denying the request.
In addition, Truong revealed a letter was sent to the association with a recommendation for denial of the request. One reason was the church would not be in harmony with the rezoned areas around the new location.
Various committees will have the chance to review VABL’s request before council’s future vote.
Although there is a lot of time before the final decision, Truong said he hopes the councils sees the people’s point of view.
“I ask the council members to approve this recommendation so we have a better chance to grow and serve our citizens and everyone around Lansing,” he said.