FarmHouse and friends fight East Village plan
The fraternity, 151 Bogue St., started a yard-sign blitz last week, planting about 100 "Save FarmHouse Fraternity" signs on Prime Housing Group Inc. B/A Florist, 1424 E. Grand River Ave., which is within East Village limits, and other fraternities. They received 100 more signs Monday and plan to spread them throughout the city this week.
The group also started the Web site www.savefarmhouse.com last week as part of the campaign, which opposes a plan to redevelop the 35-acre area between Bogue Street and Hagadorn Road, and south of Grand River Avenue to the Red Cedar River.
FarmHouse members say Nancy Kurdziel, president of Prime Housing Group, paid for newspaper advertisements and organized local business support in response to the redevelopment plans that would extend Dormitory Road through the fraternity's parking lot.
Kurdziel owns five apartment buildings in the East Village area and has publicly voiced her opposition to the revamp.
"Ever since this heated up, we've been in constant contact with her," said Tom Campbell, FarmHouse community relations chair and spokesman. "She is just as passionate about having the plan altered, or completely done with, as much as we are."
Kurdziel said other businesses besides Prime Housing Group are financially supporting FarmHouse but that she was "not at liberty to name them." She said two East Lansing coalitions were set up to support FarmHouse: Citizens to Save FarmHouse and Citizens to Defend Property Rights.
"They're a nonprofit, so it's a joint effort to try to do the right thing," Kurdziel said.
Lori Mullins, senior project manager in the city's planning department, is managing the East Village Master Plan and said the current plan is conceptual, not literal. It shows how East Village could be redeveloped over time, she said, but isn't final.
"Because of the level of detail in the proposed plan, there are misconceptions about how conceptual it really is," she said. "We need to make sure everybody understands this is a planning document ? development happens over a long period of time, with several more studies."
Development in the area also would occur in individual sections rather than all at once, Mullins added.
She said the city doesn't plan to use eminent domain government seizure of private property for economic benefit "and will work with (FarmHouse) to find a solution that would accommodate their needs as well as developers'."
The East Lansing Planning Commission can vote on Dec. 14 whether to approve the East Village Master Plan in full, and send it on to City Council for consideration. But Mullins expects commissioners to vote on modifications to the plan, rather than approving or disapproving on the whole.
Kurdziel placed a half-page advertisement in Tuesday's State News in support of FarmHouse. According to The State News advertising department, an ad of that size typically costs about $750, depending on special rates, but the department does not release specific information about a client's account. Kurdziel said advertisements in the Lansing State Journal are upcoming.
The campaign Web site was financially backed by Kurdziel and alumni contributions, said FarmHouse Adviser Brian Barnett.
"Win or lose, this has been positive for us to see the community come out and get behind FarmHouse," Barnett said.
Former FarmHouse President Kevin Thiel said in addition to financial backing from Kurdziel, a handful of alumni donated about $500 specifically for the campaign as of Monday.
FarmHouse and other members of the greek community say the campaign galvanized the greeks in support of FarmHouse, which they say is first on the chopping block in the redevelopment plans.
Other fraternities have yard signs on their property and supported FarmHouse at two public forums.
As the plan currently stands, four fraternities are not included in the area: Delta Sigma Phi, 1218 E. Grand River Ave., Delta Chi, 101 Woodmere Ave., FarmHouse Fraternity, and Beta Theta Pi, 1148 E. Grand River Ave.
Cody Dawson, vice president of external affairs on the Interfraternity Council, said the friendly competition that normally exists between houses has stopped in support of "one of our own."
"Every one realizes that, 'Hey, that could be my house,'" he said.
Scott Cendrowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.