GAINES TOWNSHIP (WOOD) — For 30 years, Andy Wyngarden has watched corn grow all around him.

The only home on the southeast corner of 84th Street and Kalamazoo Avenue SE is his, once the District No. 3 one-room schoolhouse built in 1890. Neighborhoods have popped up nearby, but not this close.

He thought it might stay that way when the Gaines Township board, by a 4-3-vote, rejected a proposal in February 2022 for a massive project on the 80-plus acres of farmland right behind him. The proposal was for 600 homes, including single-family, apartments, townhouses and senior living, along with some retail.

  • Plans for the Prairie Wolf Station development in Gaines Township.
  • A rendering of the Prairie Wolf Station development in Gaines Township.
  • A rendering of the Prairie Wolf Station development in Gaines Township.

East Lansing-based developer Caleydonia LLC sued the township in Kent County Circuit Court, citing a township-approved master plan for the future that included a neighborhood on the corner.

Township officials said that led to a recent consent decree that still needs signatures but would clear the way for the development. They said the developer hopes to start work on it this year.

“It’s just going to get more and more busy, more clustered, more stressed, and I don’t know if you can totally prevent that, but it is the way things go,” Wyngarden said. “The farmland is going away and we are in the middle of urban sprawl.”

The development, called Prairie Wolf Station, is planned behind the old schoolhouse and across the street from the Gaines Township Hall.

“I can stand here and look at the whole site right here,” Township Supervisor Robert DeWard said from his office.

DeWard said he was among the township board members who voted for the project last year. Others worried about just how big the development was and the height of the three-story apartment buildings.

“It’s definitely going to be different, you know,” DeWard said. “I don’t think it’s going to be bad.”

It will add to a township population that has grown to nearly 30,000, up from 25,000 in 2010.

“I think it’s a response to need,” DeWard said. “There’s a need for housing and Gaines is a good place to live.

“Everybody kind of wants to be the last one in, but that’s not always possible,” he said.

Wyngarden said that despite the plans, he won’t leave his old one-room schoolhouse.

“I plan to stay here until the end,” he said.