Dear Neighbors, The WNA Board of Directors was invited to meet with the City of Lansing's Director of Planning and Neighborhood Development, Bob Johnson, and Zoning Administrator, Susan Stachowiak, to discuss the adaptive re-use of Fire Station #7 on Wednesday afternoon, September 21, 2011. Johnson and Stachowiak explained to the board members in attendance (Danielle Casavant, Mary Derby, Keith Kris, Carol Rall, Michael Schury, and Jackie Payne) that the building is currently zoned for single family residential. It would be the City of Lansing's strong recommendation that the zoning be unchanged and that the property be appraised and listed for sale at the earliest opportunity. Casavant explained that they appreciated this opportunity to learn of the City's intentions before any public announcement was made but had hoped that the neighborhood residents would be given the chance to ask questions and make recommendations for the City's consideration. She went on to explain that there is a quarterly gathering scheduled for Saturday, October 8, 2011 at Letts Community Center and asked if someone from the City might be available to attend and engage in conversation with neighborhood residents. Stachowiak agreed to be in attendance at 10:00 am on the 8th. Johnson agreed that the City would not take any significant action or make any public announcements until after our residents had this opportunity to ask questions and offer their thoughts
Some other highlights of the discussion included:
• The City of Lansing does not believe the property should be rezoned for commercial use. They fear a very detrimental situation for surrounding neighbors if this building was zoned commercial due to the extremely limited on site parking, which would force any customers to park on Drexel and the already congested Jenison. • The City of Lansing believes the character of the structure is fitting with the neighborhood and the opportunity for this property to be refurbished at one of the main entrances to the neighborhood would be an enhancement to the Westside Neighborhood. • A question was raised about the building being registered as historic. Johnson explained that due to the age of the structure, it is eligible to be considered, but that no application has been made to give the building any special historic status nor does it fall within an Historic Preservation Zone. He indicated that any potential buyer could apply for such status but, if approved, the owner would then be required to follow very strict guidelines for any renovations or improvements to the property. The City of Lansing would not seek historic designation before listing the property. • A question was raised about re-use of the structure as a community center. Johnson explained first that the Letts Community Center services the Westside Neighborhood and residents far beyond the WNA borders. Second, with the City's budget deficit, there is no plan for taking on new financial liabilities as creating a community center would call for remodeling, staff and ongoing maintenance. • A question was asked about general maintenance of the property while it is vacant. Johnson asked Stachowiak notify the City of Lansing Public Service Operations and Maintenance so that mowing and snow removal at the property will be put on their regular schedule. Johnson stated that it is his intention to move quickly and do his best so ensure that the building suffers no further deterioration before it is conveyed to a new owner. • A question was raised about what guarantees there might be for the future of the structure, i.e., is there a way to ensure that it doesn't get rezoned to a multiple family dwelling - the fear being it is set-up rather conveniently for a group home/half-way home - or that it could be torn down if the renovation costs outweigh a teardown and rebuild scenario. Johnson stated that it would be possible to attach deed restrictions to the property before listing it. The deed restrictions could include both a restriction to maintain single family zoning and to not allow tear down of the property. These would likely be deed restrictions that the WNA would advocate that the City of Lansing put in place.
If you have an interest in speaking with Susan Stachowiak about the re-use of Fire Station #7, we highly encourage you to join us for the Westside Neighborhood Association Fall Meet & Greet. The Meet & Greet runs from 9 am to 12 noon on Saturday, October 8, 2011. Ms. Stachowiak will be in attendance beginning at 10 am.
We realize that not all residents are on "online" or are familiar with our website. We hope you will help us spread the word about this meeting to your friends and neighbors in the Westside Neighborhood of Lansing.
WNA Board of Directors