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Why does Lansing wants to sell vacant cemetery land? What voters need to know about Aug. 2 proposal

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Scott Pohl

Lansing voters are facing a proposal on their Aug. 2 ballots that would let the city offload a small section of land.

The property in question is about a third of an acre that’s classified as part of what's called the North Cemetery, although it's actually in southeast Lansing on Miller Road.

That section has sat vacant since being donated to the city nearly two decades ago, and has never included graves, said Lansing Parks and Recreation Director Brett Kaschinske. The area's at a lower elevation than the rest of the North Cemetery and is set apart by fencing and a wall, making it a poor candidate for burial plots, Kaschinske said.

"If people would travel to the site and see, they would say, 'You know, this would not be the place for me or my loved ones,'" Kaschinske said.

That's why the city's asking for permission to sell the currently tax-exempt land and return it to the tax rolls, Kaschinske said. Lansing's charter requires voter authorization to sell city-owned land and the terms of any final sale would ultimately require the City Council's approval after that.

The land's been appraised for about $8,000 and a nearby property owner is interested in buying it to use for apartments or a grassy lot, according to Kaschinske.

Loretta Stanaway leads Friends of Lansing's Historic Cemeteries. That group supports the ballot measure in part because the mayor and City Council members have promised to use proceeds from the sale to fund upkeep at the rest of the North Cemetery.

"The little bit of space that we are asking to sell has never been used and never will be used," Stanaway said. "There are no burials there. There never will be any burials there. ...Most people aren't even aware that it's part of the cemetery, legally.”

Sarah Lehr is a politics and civics reporter for WKAR News.
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