Kalamazoo's Planning Commission has rejected a proposal to rezone residential land near the Asylum Lake Preserve owned by Western Michigan University.
A Mishawaka, Indiana, company wants to put a car wash at the corner of Stadium Drive and Drake Road. It needs the zoning change for the project.
The Kalamazoo Gazette says the vote Tuesday, January 14, came after more than 50 people addressed the Planning Commission. Most opposed the rezoning request.
Kalamazoo City commissioners will make the final decision.
City planners had recommended that the Planning Commission approve the rezoning but keep a so-called "Natural Features Protection Overlay." It put restrictions on development of land that has sensitive natural areas or is close to them. But opponents of the rezoning said that wasn't good enough. They say a car wash would wash salt and other pollution into the nature preserve.
John Kreuzer, who's a member of WMU's Asylum Lake Policy and Management Council, says it’s important for the city to hold onto its remaining natural areas.
“Another store to shop at, another car wash to drive your car through: those things come and go,” says Kreuzer. “But places like Asylum Lake, once they’re changed, they’re changed and you can’t get it back.”
Disclosure: a member of WMUK's staff serves on the Kalamazoo Planning Commission.