Residents Oppose 24/6 Build on Renssalear in Farmington Hills
A group of churches seeks to purchase the property for a marathon building project that would result in a home given to a family in need.
A faith-based initiative that does "24/6" marathon home-building projects has its eye on a city-owned property in Farmington Hills.
Some neighbors have told city officials they don't want round-the-clock construction and would rather see the property on Rensselaer developed as a community garden and park.
Faith Covenant, Oak Pointe, The Crossing and Grace Chapel churches plan to build a LifeRemodeled home that will be given to a family in need. LifeRemodeled representative John Miller said at a study session last week that a similar project completed in Westland also resulted in some beautification of the neighborhood.
The 501(c)3 organization plans six other builds this year, Miller said. The six-day time frame "keeps everyone on their toes" and keeps the overall project focused, he said. Some pre-building is done off-site, and activities in the later hours would be work done inside the house, like drywall installation.
While Miller said residents in the Westland neighborhood were happy with last year's build, Colleen Allen, whose home abuts the Rensselaer property, said residents there told her a different story.
"They said it was a nightmare," Allen said. "The home itself was adorable, but as far as the neighborhood was concerned, it was very hard on them."
Miller said one of the neighbors went from having a "very aggressive posture" toward volunteers to mowing the yard for the new residents. "That turnaround for the neighborhood was dramatic," he said.
Petitions oppose 24/6 build
Allen presented officials with petitions signed by residents who oppose the round-the-clock build and favored a community garden on the property. Jeff and Laura Bunker, who live directly behind it, said they have no problem with the project.
Council member Nancy Bates, who said she attends Faith Covenant church, chided residents who opposed the project.
"I have a hard time understanding a lack of tolerance for six days for a family that needs a home," she said. "Good grief, where's your heart?"
Allen later said she was "not happy" with Bates' comments. "Just because it isn't what they wanted to hear doesn't make me a bad person," she said.
Allen said she met with the LifeRemodeled group and originally thought a community garden would be included in the project. "They stopped the emphasis on the community garden. That's why I got involved," she said.
Allen noted that Farmington Hills does not have a community garden and said she feels the Rensselaer property would be a good fit. Hills resident Masha Silver told officials creating a small park on the property would also be a benefit for the neighborhood.
City manager Steve Brock called a community garden "a big undertaking" but added, "I think all those things could be incorporated."
Officials were generally supportive of the idea for building a home on the property, but had concerns about the sale price. Council member Richard Lerner said he didn't think the city could give away one its assets, particularly when spiritual counseling is required before the title to the property is conveyed to the new owners.
"I think it would have to be done at fair market value," he said.