Assessed Homeowners Ask DeWitt to End Land-Sharing

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Of the crowd at Monday's DeWitt Township trustee meeting, about half didn't even live in DeWitt. They are the residents who signed a petition, asking DeWitt Township to end the land-sharing agreement that makes their street part of East :ansing.

"The residents of Coleman and West Roads," spokesperson Luis Garcia told the board, "request that the 425 agreement be terminated.:

A 425 is a land-sharing agreement that both municipalities agree to to share taxes and responsibilities for the area. It gives East Lansing responsibility to waste removal, for example, but also allows them tax revenue from the area.

The homeowners, though, claim East Lansing has violated the spirit of that 425 agreement by imposing large assessments on their properties to widen, curb, and install utilities along their roads.

"We don't need it, we didn't ask for it, we don't want it," says Sally Bennett, whose assessment bill for that unwanted work is around $30,000.

"What has East Lansing done for us except sock us with a big assessment?," Bennett says.

East Lansing's city manager Ted Staton says this is the first road impmrovement in this stretch in more than 40 years, and that the city is doing it's best to be sensitive to the financial strain.

"We're doing backflips," he says.

The area in question is growing by leaps and bounds, and the developers there are anxious to see the city's facilities improved as well. The residents fear the growth will force them out.

"Is it that you want us to sell, and get rid of us?," Garcia says.

This petition is, they admit, a bold and unlikely move.

"It's unusual but we are left with no recourse," Garcia says.

425's are binding agreements, and the city of East Lansing says they'd have to agree to terminate it as well.

There is a public hearing on this issue at East Lansing city hall on November 8.