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Thursday, July 5,2012

Eyesore of the week

by Andy Balaskovitz

Property:  1012 N. Walnut St., Lansing (the pole barn)

Owner:  Niowave Inc.

Owner says: We’re open to discuss with neighbors

The mainstream media is heralding Niowave’s multimillion-dollar expansion as an economic savior of the high tech, progressive sort. True enough, but what about the company’s neighbors who have sat by — uninformed and excluded — and watched their Walnut neighborhood become a mini industrial park? 

Niowave’s expansion calls for this 14,000-square-foot pole barn for testing particle accelerators. Yet one neighbor says this white and blue behemoth will completely shut out any direct sunlight from hitting his house. City Council members are hearing complaints from several other neighbors.

Niowave should be rightly commended for rehabbing several residential rental properties around its headquarters here, and for repurposing the old Walnut school, six years ago. One wonders why the company didn’t take the same neighborly approach with its new build-out. They’re certainly not required to do so by city regulations (we’re told the operation fits within a special land use permit), but what is the lesson here? That any economic development — especially the advanced, high tech kind — plays a bigger role than maintaining aesthetics? Or that Lansing is a city that will roll out the red carpet for any company willing to move or expand here, neighborhood or historical integrity be damned?


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