Neighbors Furious at $1,000s in Assessment Fees

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For Jerry Dalman and her two acres along Coleman Road, she sees the accessment notice she expects to receive as a property seizure.

"If I doesn't sell [my land], I'll lose the property," she says.

For a road widening, curbing, and gutter project the city wants to complete along the road where her vacant lot sits, she'd be asked to pay more than $19,000. If she choses to connect to the utility lines coming through, the cost would be $92,000.

The city explains she does not have connect to the utility, but if she does sell the land, the new owner would have to connect.

Her neighbors face assessments of as much as $82,000, $40,000, and $45,000.

"A lot of these peope are retired," Dalman says. "They cannot pay this kind of a assessment on their limited income."

The city of East Lansing's director of public works explains these owners are being assessed because the road improvements increase the value on their land. The area's become a hotspot for new developments, and those new developers are asking for change.

They say the developers, who own 68% of the property in the area, asked for the utility and road work. They too will be assessed fees.

Dalmans says the neighbors are being forced out for those developments, and weren't told about these changes to the roadway until after the changes were underway.

Construction did begin before the city began discussing assessing the cost to homeowners. A developer is fronting the money to hook up a water line.

The director of public works says if the city council decides not to widen the road at the request of the neighbors, they will not be accessed a fee. The people who live there fear their protest may be too late.

"It's done. We can protest to high heaven," Dalman says. "We can go to meetings, but it's done. It's finished. They're gonna do it whether we want it or not."

The unhappy neighbors can ask city council to ask them to reverse their earlier decision to begin this project. They can also go before a tax tribunal to prove their properties won't increase in value.

An informational meeting is scheduled for Friday, September 22, at 3:30 at the Department of Public Works building, at State and Chandler Roads.