Niowave keeps tax break; neighborhood frustrations continue

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – State officials say Niowave will be able to keep its tax abatement despite Lansing city council’s decision to rescind it.

The State Tax Commission says Lansing doesn’t have the authority to revoke the $550,000 tax abatement despite a broken promise between Niowave and the city.

That broken promise was an agreement to make the facade of the Niowave pole barn cosmetically blend into the neighborhood it is in, which is filled with homes from the early 1900s. But with today’s decision from the state neighbors are losing hope they’ll see any changes made in the future. ‘My house is this gorgeous one hundred year old house that I love and cherish and hope someday someone else will,” said neighbor Mary Elaine Kiener. “But will they want to live next door to that is another question.”

Neighbors say it’s been an eyesore for too long, a Niowave pole barn placed smack dab in Walnut neighborhood in Lansing.

And after a decision from the state neighbors believe the owners will have no incentive to change the way it looks. Neighbor Dale Schrader explains “To have to put up with this decision, I don’t even understand why we have agreements if you can’t enforce them.”

In June city council voted to pull a half a million dollar tax break from Niowave for not fulfilling their promise to cosmetically blend this pole barn with surrounding homes from the early 1900s.

But as it turns out council’s vote turned out to only be a vote of principle.

This morning the state tax commission trumped council’s decision allowing Niowave to keep the tax incentive.

Neighbors say there have been some minor changes to the outside of the Niowave pole barn like the brick exterior but it’s not everything they were promised. Now with the state’s decision they’re running out of options on what to do next.

One frustrated neighbor summed up the feelings. “We don’t have any recourse, I mean we don’t have money to go out and start a lawsuit so it looks like this is the end of it, I guess.”

Neighbors say there are good things that came out of this. The neighborhood bonded together and they were able to gain support from city council. But there’s no guarantee the pole barn will look any different than it does today.

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