Student Housing Development Worries Some Residents

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Neighbors are upset about a new development going up soon in Meridian Township.

In a very close vote during Tuesday night's meeting the township board gave the go-ahead for construction to start on the new Hannah Lofts located across the street from Michigan State's campus on Hagadorn.

It's a multimillion dollar project marking the third of five phases for the Hannah Farms Mixed Use Planned Unit Development Concept.

The project is headed up by Capstone Collegiate Communities, the developers behind the Lodges of East Lansing student housing which made up the first two phases of the plan.

The Hannah Lofts project aims to add more student housing to the area and that's something that has Bill Lee, who lives in the Indian Lakes Estates neighborhood directly behind the site, worried.

Lee, who is also the president of the Indian Lakes Homeowners Association said he was disappointed with the board's decision to approve the project.

"This is a neighborhood, it's not a commercial operation and adding another 1,000 beds to the existing group of beds that's over there is just pushing it too much," Lee said.

"The original plan called for "mixed use" development -- meaning a mix of diverse housing along with commercial and retail space, but Lee and several others argue it's strayed too far from the original plan.

"To be constantly lied to and told this is one thing when it really isn't when it was mixed use but has never turned out to be mixed use," he said.

But John Acken, executive vice president with Capstone Collegiate said they made sure to offer a wide range of unit types to attract more than just students.

"We wanted to try and create a substantial diversity in the types of housing offered," he said.

Of the 282 units that will be offered, 114 of those will be four bedroom-four bathroom units which is less than what was originally planned, he said.

Township Trustee Ron Styka said the problem isn't necessarily student housing but the fact that there's just too many people in that area now.

"The problem with the project is how dense it is," he said. "We have no problem with student housing, but I was a student too and you get rowdy sometimes and noisy."

Styka admitted just last week there were a few noise complaints coming from the student housing already in the area.

Township Trustee Milton Scales, who voted in favor of the project, said it signals a positive step forward for the township.

Scales added he was swayed to approve the plans after the developer made several concessions the board had requested including reducing the number of four bedroom-four bathroom units.

"I don't understand when you have two colleges in your backyard you should not be surprised that you are going to be faced with students as neighbors," Scales said.

"We cannot get in the business of just because we don't like something turning away investing into this community."

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