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East Lansing sees rise in fraternities applying for zoning permits

East Lansing sees rise in fraternities applying for zoning permits
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 5:42 PM EST
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - East Lansing is considering granting more permits for fraternity houses this year, compared to the last few years.

The public could weigh in Wednesday on the fourth permit this year that’s going before the East Lansing Planning Commission.

The planning commission was held at the Hannah Center, where people can explain why the city should or shouldn’t allow 404 E. Michigan Avenue to be a fraternity house.

It’s the first step before the commission sends its recommendation to the city council.

“Some additional oversight might be necessary, again on part of the city,” said Daniel Bollman, East Lansing Planning Commission chairman.

Kappa Sigma is asking East Lansing to approve a special use permit for its house on Michigan Avenue, right across the street from Michigan State.

It was one of three fraternity special use permits before the planning commission Wednesday, which is more than the city’s seen in years.

Bollman said some places are already acting like fraternity homes anyways.

“Some of the class buildings, again which are apartments, have been occupied by I think exclusively by individual fraternities,” said Bollman.

East Lansing has two classifications for multi-family housing -- Class A is for your standard apartment and Class B is more like what you expect dorm rooms with a shared common area.

Bollman said fraternities and sororities have to get a special use permit to make sure they fit.

“To make sure the use is compatible with, perhaps supportive of the typical by right zoning uses,” said Bollman.

The three properties -- 404 E. Michigan Avenue, 251 Grand River Avenue and 532 Ann Street -- are already in student housing zoning and are near student apartments and other Greek houses.

Bollman said we are seeing more properties redeveloped, instead of new ones built, simply because there isn’t enough space.

“Actually that’s part of our review and part of the housing staff’s review is to make sure there are appropriate egresses from places like that,” said Bollman.

The planning commission is expected to make its recommendation on the 404 E. Michigan Avenue request during its next meeting. City Council has to approve any special use permits.

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