By Jonathan Labuhn
The Copper Beech community has a new kind of unrest on its hands.
At an Oshtemo Board of Trustees meeting on Aug. 11, eight residents of the Country Club Village spoke about the Copper Beech community. These residents complained about excessive noise, partying, trespassing, racing, and a suspicious fire pit at the Agape Church. Residents have raised similar concerns about Copper Beech at other Board of Trustees meetings but this was the first official meeting concerning the subject.
At the meeting, residents said that their property values are lower due to students and suggested that a sound barrier to be erected between Copper Beech and its surroundings to keep peace and quite in their community.
Located west of US-131 on KL Avenue and about 4.3 miles from Western Michigan University’s campus, Copper Beech tends to cater to the large student population in Kalamazoo but does not purely house students. The community is open to anyone who meets the Copper Beech application requirements, which are predominantly based on income.
Board of Trustee members assured the eight speakers and the group of their resident supporters that they would work with Copper Beech management to stem further frustrations between students and residents.
Board members Libby Heiny-Cogswell and Jim Grace along with Township Attorney Jim Porter met with two owners and the manager of Copper Beech to discuss the problems.
“We enjoy having our student community, but there are rules for a reason and now those reasons have come to light,” Heiny-Cogswell, Oshtemo township manager, said.
Because of this discussion, Copper Beech has agreed to send out notices to all its residents informing them of what are violations and to enforce them, with fines, as best as possible. Copper Beech has also agreed to increase security personnel and to place speed bumps to deter racing and speeding.
Another possibility for Copper Beech is a fence around the area to deter trespassing into neighboring communities. The Board agreed to ask the county sheriff to watch over the area in hopes to deter any illegal activity.
“We believe we are being treated fairly by the Township, and we hope that the representatives of the Township would agree that we are taking these matters seriously and working to be cooperative,” Ron Gatehouse Senior Vice-President and Partner Copper Beech Townhomes, said.
The Oshtemo Township Board and Copper Beech are in contact about the original complaints.