Mid-Michigan Church Wants to Build Homes

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"This is part of a vision," Samuel Duncan, Jr. explains.

Duncan, the pastor of Lansing Church of God in Christ, sees housing on the land owned by his church.

"Ministry is outside of the four walls, outside of the Sunday morning service, outside of the Wednesday night Bible study," he said. "After that ceases, what are we doing here in the community for the people in the surrounding area?"

The church and the planned "New Faith Gardens" development are along Wise Road south of Jolly Road. The development would have two entrances off of Wise forming something of a "U" shape with 24 townhouses in the center and 24 senior cottages along the edges.

They would be among the first church-developed homes in mid-Michigan. Units would have private garages and the development would have "islands" for visitor parking.

But the homes would be available only to people making no more than 60 percent of the area's median income.

Duncan says he'll be fighting assumptions about affordable housing and rental housing in general. He says he hopes his reputation -- and that of the church -- will reassure concerned neighbors that this a quality development.

"We're not some developer in California or somewhere but we're right here," Duncan said. "We have a special interest in what takes places because this reflects the ministry."

The pastor has met with neighborhood groups to address concerns over privacy and water runoff.

The affordability requirements come along with the federal tax credits the church is seeking for the project. But the city needs to give the church "planned residential development" status for those credits to go through.

City development chief Bob Johnson says the plan meets with density and zoning restrictions for the area. He sees it as a good fit.

"When you have a faith-based organization that has a vested interest ... in this community and is going to develop a project next door to it's current location, I have a lot of confidence in that," he said.

Now the Lansing City Council will decide if it shares that confidence. The council's development and planning committee is expected to decide whether to grant "planned residential development" status sometime in the next few weeks.

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