Okemos & Haslett

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  • edited March 20

    Ostensibly a story about NIMBYs, I'm posting it because it reveals that a property owner might be seeking to build some affordable housing - thank god - behind the Whole Foods on Grand River in the west end of the township near the East Lansing border:

    Woda Cooper, a Columbus, Ohio-based developer, wants to rezone property at 2765 E. Grand River Ave. to more than triple the number of allowed housing units per acre.

    The developer wants to build 53 affordable townhome units on the property, which is located directly behind Whole Foods off Grand River Avenue.

    The property is an abandoned former mobile home park that Woda Cooper has an agreement to buy with some conditions — including the rezoning going through.

    The property has been vacant for nearly four years, according to Peter Menser, principal planner for Meridian Township

    The neighbors say they aren't against the type of housing, but the traffic, which is a valid concern. Early plans show completion of the street grid, linking Sirhal Drive on the west to Greencliffe Drive on the east, but that's not set in stone as this hasn't been through the full review process. It's completely possible the township may put a condition that that street link not be built. Though to be honest, I'd rather they complete that link, because the only other option is to simply access Grand River, which is already crazy.

  • edited March 21
    For nimby's it's never the people or their incomes. It's always a different codeword so as not to appear discriminatory. I hope they build this and link the streets. The linking of the streets will be more convenient for the neighborhood too.
  • I find a little hard to believe that an abandoned mobile home park/green space was the reason people choose to live over there, or that the handicapped will be trapped in their homes if the build a street link through the dead ends. It's true that this area was the edge of town back 30 or 40 years ago, I used to go swimming at the gravel pits out there back in my college days. Today this neighborhood is in the middle of a lot of development, and this plan would not really change the neighborhood except I think to improve it.

  • Not a huge development, but it looks like Okemos Auto Collection is moving o the southeast corner of Jolly and Hulett Roads and building new dealerships there. I'd seen the land cleared and some framing go up, but I hadn't seen a sign in front until I drove by it today. Some small renderings and other construction photos on their website. https://www.okemosautocollection.com/buildingprogress

  • I like their current location better. This puts them further away from bus routes and other businesses. I think they've done pretty well over the past 10 years due to increased business from international students. It would have been nice if they relocated to downtown East Lansing to be closer. There are some nice dealerships that have attached parking garages where the cars are stored so a large surface lot isn't needed.

  • Yeah, can't say I see this as a smart move as it relates to the greater community. It seems like the only likely justification on Auto Collections part is that they probably thought they needed a bigger storage yard or service center or something. But every other consideration from the other angle points to it just being an irresponsible move.

    First off, it's kitty corner from a high school; it seems the last thing you'd want across from a community facility is some massive auto dealership. Then you've got the factor that the land they are moving to is basically a greenfield. So what you're likely getting is an already surban-minded design being even more suburban-minded (even larger setbacks, even more paved area, etc.).

    Like, I don't really have any strong feeling about whether car dealerships should or shouldn't be so far as it relates to the extremes; downtowns and farm fields are probably not where you want them for sure short of maybe a showroom for expensive brands in an urban area. But this strikes me as sort of wasteful on its face, and a really kind of 80's/90's way of thinking about and doing development.

    And, honestly, if we're being honest, this location was probably chosen on the other side of Jolly since the south side of the road lies in Alaiedon Township, which I imagine has fewer zoning restrictions, less expensive permits for development, etc.

  • I'm wondering if the manufacturers were part of the reason that they are building new buildings. Facility image is a main part of a lot of the incentives dealers can earn from manufacturers.

  • edited May 5

    Might be, though, I've noticed at at least in Lansing, it's usually just superficial changes to the outside of the dealerships when they "rebuilt."

    Edit: Found the township planning committee discussion on this one from December 2017:

    http://alaiedontwp.com/pdfdocuments/planningcommissionminutesdecember182017.pdf

    Apparently, this was zoned residential and they rezoned it commercial. While such a tiny (in population) township doesn't have a packet showing site plans or anything, you can see quite a bit was discussed as it relates to the development. And the township board approved the rezoning the following month without any controversy, it seems:

    http://alaiedontwp.com/pdfdocuments/minutesjanuary82018.pdf

  • edited May 5

    Wow thank you for doing the research to find those meeting minutes. The whole practice of "locality-shopping" really hurts the Lansing region. Jackson National is the worst offender. It would have been great to have them in actual Lansing proper instead of "Lansing inside of Alaiedon Township".

    Alaiedon wasn't going to stop the move because of the increased taxes they will assess, while Meridian Township will now be left with a vacant car dealership and a future brownfield site. Even if another dealership takes over the old location, there will still be a vacant dealer lot somewhere else. The population growth in Lansing hasn't been enough to support another new dealership in town, let alone there are probably franchise rules about proximity to other dealers with the same brands.

  • edited May 5

    The car dealership thing in Okemos is weird. Like almost a handful of them are moving from their current properties just east of the mall, and then just moving down the road a few blocks.

    That said, Alaiedon has been pretty good of keeping sprawl out. Looking at the zoning map, basically the only thing zoned for general business, office, and light industrial in the whole township is their side of Jolly Road, between Okemos Road and Hagadorn. This rezoning seems to be an exception because there are a few rural residential parcels spread out near that corner, but basically the entire rest of the township outside of the 425 Agreement area with Lansing is zoned "general agricultural." It's why the sprawl sort of just abruptly stops south of the freeway. The only other large area of Alaiedon Township zoned for development, and then almost only low-density housing subdivisions is the area of the township between its border on College Road and U-127.

    Meridian Township is less stringent, but still more so than anything on the west side of Lasing (Delta). But, they seem to increasingly be giving out more special permits, which is not a good thing to see if viewed from the perspective of trying to keep sprawl in check.

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