Couple may halt event center plans after Lansing residents speak out

Published 10:49 am Friday, June 10, 2016

Despite receiving split approval from the Mower County board Tuesday, an Austin couple may not move forward on a plan to turn a former Lansing Church into an event center.

The board voted 3-2 Tuesday afternoon to approve a conditional use permit for Kami and Trevor Haasch to turn the former United Methodist Church into an event center. However, the couple still needs Lansing Township board approval, which looks uncertain after many nearby residents have spoken out against the plan.

Right after receiving county approval Tuesday, Kami said she and her husband are considering dropping their plan due to outspoken response from neighbors.

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“It just sucks,” she said, noting they’d had events scheduled that were canceled due to the timing of the permit process.

The Haasch’s plan was to turn the church into an event center for weddings, anniversaries, commitment ceremonies, banquets and other such events. The event center would house events of about 100 people or less, and Haasch said they were targeting an in-between-sized crowd for events.

The county planning commission approved the permit with 17 conditions, and Kami told the board they’d cap events at 100 people.

“I just want to benefit the community,” Kami, an ordained minister, told the board.

She called the church, which is currently vacant, a “beautiful place to have a wedding.”

However, three nearby residents came out to voice concerns to the board. For starters, they raised concerns about there being enough available parking stall and fears that people would park in neighbors’ lawns. They also voiced concerns about events going late, as plans called for events to end on weekends at 11 a.m. and cleanup to last until about midnight.

Some voiced concerns about security, citing a November 2013 shooting at the Lansing Corners Event center. But the Haasches told the board they’d ensure security at events and keeping things from getting out of hand.

“We want it to be safe; we don’t want it to be the nuisance in the neighborhood,” Kami said.

The board voiced split opinions on the plan, as Commissioner Tim Gabrielson, who represents the area of the church, said he thought parking would need to be addressed before plans move forward.

“I don’t think that is realistic,” he said. “To me, it just doesn’t add up.”

But Commissioner Mike Ankeny, who serves on the planning commission, said the 17 conditions of the permit address such concerns, and the couple would be punished if the conditions aren’t met. He said the Haasches have worked to address the concerns.

“I personally think it’s been pretty well thought out,” he said.

Commissioners Jerry Reinartz, Ankeny and Polly Glynn voted in favor, while Gebrielson and Tony Bennett opposed the plan.