The East Lansing City Council met earlier this month to discuss the proposal to rezone seven parcels of property by Hagan Realty on the north end of Grove Street and on Burcham Drive. The objective is to allow denser housing in the area. While these new townhouses would be available to rent for anyone interested, most neighbors nearby who attended the meeting spoke out against the proposal.
These houses are near Abbot Road and East Lansing High School, currently, they are under the R-2 zone, “considered medium density single-family residential,” according to the East Lansing Code of Ordinance. This change would make the new townhouses “city center multiple-family residential.” This change would go against some neighbor’s wishes to keep it residential as RM-32. It would most likely change the area to “townhomes, apartment buildings, higher density residential units which are typically for rent,” as the Interim Director of Planning, Building and Development Tim Dempsey explained during the meeting.
“I feel very strongly that whatever happens, I really do want to keep the size of scaled down. Ideally, I would like to see new families benefit from this location,” said Betty Brown, a homeowner on the 600 block. She was one of those who spoke out at the City Council meeting back on Sept. 5. Before that, families in the area were already concerned that the nearby college would attract college students to the neighborhood and impact their routines. The families in the area also have a nearby fraternity house. They are worried that if Hagan acquired the new properties there would be more than 11 people living in one unit.
The reclassification of the zoning would allow more rooms on each property. “While we believe this kind of development will reduce the kind of misbehavior that we’ve seen because of apartments contain students in a way that the rental houses do not,” argued Rev. Kit Carlson, the only one who spoke out in favor of this rezoning. She talked about the experience that her and her fellow members of the clergy experienced living on that block.
“I grew up here and I loved it and I wanted my daughter to experience that same joy,” said Peter Farency, who was representing his grandma Ellen Farency, at the meeting. The council tries to find a balance between the family-first-area mentality and the fact there is a college town. Brown also stated: “Having the library so close, the Hannah Center, schools. It’s just such a perfect place for families to be.
Update: The City Council voted against the proposed rezoning at the Sept. 19 meeting.