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Homeowners divided in historical district debate in East Grand Rapids

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.– An argument is brewing in East Grand Rapids over plans for the area to become a historical district.

Supporters want the neighborhoods and houses to be preserved as they are, but opponents are hoping to put a stop to those plans by submitting 600 signatures they gathered.

Both people on either side say the debate began back in March. That was at the same time a homeowner in the area wanted to demolish their home, and rebuild. That sparked a debate on preserving homes, and people throughout East Grand Rapids are divided on whether it should become a historical district or not.

Lynne Goede a resident of East Grand Rapids takes great pride in being a homeowner there.

“I think East Grand Rapids has sort of a cache to it. It’s awfully pretty. The homes if you drive through are all unique different,” she said.

As unique and different as the homes are, she says she wants to make sure that none of their historical designs are compromised or torn down.

“Part of the charm in East Grand Rapids is the beautiful older neighborhood, and so people are getting a little concerned and I think including myself that we are knocking  down these homes and putting up replicas. It’s like should I buy a Mercedes or a fake Mercedes?”

John Inhulsen says the city should be concentrating on other things than making East Grand Rapids a historical district, adding the regulations are already in place for those who want to alter their homes.

“A lot of friends and neighbors we talked to are opposed. We believe that East Grand Rapids is not about the property. It’s about people and its the people that make this community,” he said.

Monday night the city commission will be hearing a proposal from Lynn Goede and others, who want a study done to determine if East Grand Rapids should be made a historical district.

“The study  would be to look at the historical aspects and take pictures, research, go to the library, it’s all done by volunteers to find out is there some historical significance and if there is perhaps we should establish a district,” said Goede.

Lynne says the study would be completely free of cost and done by volunteers that the city commissions picks, but Gary Stec, a resident of East Grans Rapids for 27 years doesn’t buy it.

“I think there may be a miscommunication. There is certainly going to be a huge cost expense to put on this study. Frankly even it was free we don’t need it. I just don’t think we want more rules and regulations in place. I don’t want a committee of people telling me what color my shutters should be,” he said

Goede says there’s no harm in at least conducting the study to see what kind of historical significance lies in East Grand Rapids.

“I think the argument right now is should we look at this and should we pause and say, ‘what do we have here in East Grand Rapids?'”

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