Rezoning of Walnut Hills Golf Club likely to be denied
The Walnut Hills Golf Club in East Lansing, 2874 E. Lake Lansing Road, could be become a housing development in the near future, though the proposed rezoning of the club will likely be denied.
At Monday’s Meridian Township planning commission meeting, residents of East Lansing, Walnut Hills Golf Club members and other Meridian Township residents who attended the meeting to oppose the development scored a victory, as the planning commission indicated they will likely oppose a rezoning proposal that would allow Summer Park Realty, LLC to fit about 380 housing units onto the 190-acre property.
“For almost 100 years, this golf course has been a place to relax, play golf or more recently play tennis, swim or enjoy a meal with friends and family. … Many neighbors purchased their houses for the sole purpose of having the solitude of wide-open spaces in their backyard,” Haslett resident and Walnut Hills member Gary Dawson said.
More than 40 members of the public attended with 12 citizens speaking out against the proposal and none speaking in favor of it.
At two previous meetings when the proposal was discussed, citizens have also spoken out against the proposal.
For the first time on Monday, the planning commission took an unofficial straw-poll vote, which came out 7-0 against the rezoning proposal.
Planning commission chair Dante Ianni said the commission will vote on its official recommendation to the Meridian Township board at its March 27 meeting.
“For the next meeting, we’ll vote on a recommendation to deny the zoning property, because of the increased zoning, increased density, things like that,” Ianni said.
With the rezoning proposal #16060, Summer Park Realty hopes to rezone 157 of the property’s 190 acres, allowing them to fit approximately 380 housing units on the property, Ianni said during the meeting.
The rezoning would cause an increase in automobile traffic in the area near Donley Elementary School and the upcoming Costco development, which inspired concerns for many local residents.
“I’ve got four children, two of whom have yet to enter the school system, and the traffic and the safety concerns are one of my top priorities,” East Lansing resident Allison Parker said. “We walk the kids down to Donley Elementary to go to the park playground there, and have had major safety concerns trying to cross there, even at the crosswalk at Hagadorn and Lake Lansing and I certainly don’t see that situation getting better anytime soon, especially with Costco coming in, and a development of that size.”
At Monday’s meeting, Summer Park Realty partner Steve Schafer presented a set of conditions for the rezoning, but the planning commissioners expressed whether these conditions were enough to offset their concerns.
The planning commission is not allowed to negotiate conditions with the applicant, Ianni said.
Schafer offered to assuage some of the concerns of the planning commission by resubmitting his proposed conditions for the rezoning, however he expressed a desire to move forward.
“Look, we’ve been going at this thing for a while,” Schafer said during the meeting. “We’d like to try to at least get to the board level, and we’ve reached out to the neighbors, and made phone calls, and I tried to be conscientious, but it just seems like we’re not getting anywhere.”
After next week’s official planning commission recommendation vote, the rezoning proposal will move forward to a vote by the Meridian Township board. Based on the results of that vote, Summer Park Realty will create and submit its official proposal for the new housing development.