The Valley grows, doesn’t expand

Kara Haight

As Grand Valley State University continues to expand with a new library and science building, its transformations do not stay within itself. Changes to GVSU mean changes to the Allendale Charter Township.

The main campus for GVSU lies within the Allendale boundaries, but because Allendale is considered a governmental township, all major developmental plans, buildings and future construction activity is approved by the state, but decided by the university.

James Moyer, assistant vice president for Facilities Planning at GVSU, said since the university is classified as a “state of Michigan constitutional entity” it is not subject to local township ordinances and regulations.

“We rely on the township for certain public services such as water and fire protection, ” Moyer said, adding for the most part, the university operates independently from the township.
Essentially, Allendale has no say in what goes on within the grounds of GVSU.

“We do not have any control of any building or construction on the GVSU property,” said Sharon Kleinjans of planning and community development for Allendale Township. “The permits they would need would be from the state.”

With the continued construction on the land already owned by GVSU, many wonder if, or when GVSU will obtain more land within the township or in other areas to expand campus.

There is currently no news about an expansion, but if the university chooses to pursue more land, the decision will not be made by Allendale Charter Township.

“GVSU is not limited to any geographical location when it comes to owning land,” said Jerry Alkema, the Allendale Charter township supervisor. “(GVSU) can purchase land anywhere in Allendale without restrictions.”

Moyer also added that GVSU “does not obtain land from Allendale. The university makes its purchases from private landowners,” just like other landowners in Allendale.

Even though GVSU operates as its own independent entity, following state regulation but still making decisions about expansion and additions to coincide with the needs of students and faculty, it has still created a favorable relationship with Allendale Charter Township.

“Allendale and GVSU work well together,” Alkema said. “(We) have a good working relationship.”

Even though not necessary for approval, GVSU building and construction plans are usually communicated with the township board to ensure that everyone is aware of any projects.

“It is important that we accomplish the goals of the community,” Alkema said, confirming the important bond that GVSU and Allendale Charter Township have.
As GVSU continues to develop and grow both in size, students and academics, its partnership with Allendale will progress too.

“We are in constant communication, “ Alkema said. “(We) hope to build a better future together.”

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