Mayor Sides Against Rehab Center Plan for Former School

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

Sixty-four men live at the Lansing Teen Challenge facility on Willow Street.

"We're a one-year, live-in Christian training center for people with life-controlling problems," Executive Director the Rev. Jeff Turner said. "Drugs (and) alcohol, mostly."

Last year, Turner agreed to buy them a new home from the Lansing School District: the old Holmes Street School.

"We're full," he explained.

The new site would have room for up to 96 men, pending a special land use permit from the city.

Some neighbors don't want to see that happen.

"Like 60 feet from my front door, " Joan Regan said. She can look out at the school from her living room.

"The neighborhood is densely populated with kids. I have grandkids that like to play behind the school. I have daycare and it's right in my front yard," Regan said.

Now, the neighbors unhappy with the plan for the school have a powerful ally in city government.

"The mayor is recommending that the special use permit be denied," said Bob Johnson, director of the city's Department of Planning and Neighborhood Development.

Johnson says there are too many homes nearby, and unlike the current Willow Street site, there are no other commercial properties or other land uses nearby.

Turner says his center hasn't been a problem. He can recall perhaps one or two calls to police and the neighbors, he says, like having the facility there.

"They were at first against us, but since we've been here you know most of the time you don't even notice we're here," Turner said. "I believe that given the opportunity the neighbors will like us there."

There are some neighbors willing to give Lansing Teen Challenge that opportunity.

"Sounds like a good idea. (It) could help some people," Brandon Scott said. "It's a big, empty building. Might as well use it."

But other ideas are now sprouting for the big empty building, including a technology learning center for kids.

At this point though, it's in the hands of the city council -- where the committee chairman handling the permit says it'll likely be weeks before a vote.


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