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Mount Pleasant Planning Commission takes action against suspended Delta Chi fraternity

WebMount Pleasant officials have had their hands full with the Delta Chi chapter at Central Michigan University.

The 1007 S. Main St. house was served 29 violations from the city’s Code Enforcement department between 2012 and 2014. Violations range from trash and litter, to improper use of furniture and signage.

Next year, the fraternity brothers will likely have to find a new place to live.

The 18 Greek houses registered at CMU averaged seven violations from the city during that two-year period. Delta Chi had the most, followed by Sigma Chi with 26 and Phi Sigma Phi with 25. Most violations served to Greek houses deal with trash.

The other 15 houses were cited for less than 20, including including Alpha Gamma Delta, Delta Zeta, Phi Sigma Sigma, and Zeta Tau Alpha, which had none.

Delta Chi’s landlord, Joe Olivieri, was asked by the Mount Pleasant Planning Commission, at a meeting in March, to comply with city ordinances pertaining to its change of zoning status from a registered student organization house, to a residential dwelling.

Since allegations and suspension against the fraternity were made public, Olivieri said other fraternities have been trying to lease the property. He said a new group of 12 students have taken a lease on the house, starting in August.

“It’s all about what those students did in those four walls,” Olivieri said. “They kind of resisted with the university. They fought it all down the line. It’s just unfortunate for everyone involved.

“They chose a path that got them to where they are today.”

The landlord was certain that the offending residents would not be leased to live on the premises after their contract runs out in August. He was unsure if they would actually leave, however.

“There’s nothing for them to do anymore, they’re gone” Olivieri said. “I don’t know if they’re going clear out or not.”

City officials worried that members of the suspended fraternity, while still living in the house, would continue participating in school activities at that location.

“It’s about the fact that their status has changed,” said Bill Mrdeza, director of community services. “If you’re not an RSO, you can’t parade yourself as one. It’s a matter of being compliant with our ordinance.”

The planning commission passed a motion at a March 6 meeting to change the house’s zoning license from an RSO to residential dwelling. The change removed the house from CMU’s Greek community, and barred residents from hosting school-related events and parties on the premises.

The fraternity was suspended in October 2013 by the university for alcohol violations, and was cited that month for refusing to remove its Greek letters.

Commissioner Allison Quast was concerned the same students whose behavior caused the suspension remain in the dwelling.

“I’m worried about these kids being in this house with no supervision,” Quast said at the March 6 meeting.

Mark Ranzenberger, a commissioner and professor at CMU, said he was mainly concerned with the house’s non-compliance in removing the Greek signage.

“I think this is straight-forward from a zoning perspective,” Ranzenberger said at the March 6 meeting. “The one concern is the removal of the sign. On my drive in, I noticed it was still up. The university does not recognize them as an RSO.”

Members of Delta Chi resisted the signage ordinance. When the letters were removed from the exterior of the house, residents defiantly hung them in a window, though not displaying them was one of the sanctions received from the Office of Student Conduct appeals board.

“Having letters on a fraternity house still makes you on campus, whether the university says so or not,” said Delta Chi senior Jeff LaHaye. “When people walk by (and say), ‘Oh, that’s the Delta Chi house,’ then we’re still here.”
The city has no jurisdiction over signs placed in windows, in the interior of the house, LaHaye said.
“Our state of mind is you can’t tell us what we can and can’t put in our window,” he said. “You made us take them down. They’re not outside … they’re not on the house.”

Olivieri said he contacted the residents repeatedly to remove the letters.

“It’s a tricky situation,” Olivieri said. “I can’t just go in there and take things down. We’ve called and told them to several times. We had a lot of difficulty just getting it off the door.”

The letters have since been removed from the Main Street window after the 11 Delta Chi residents were each charged $50.

 

One Comment

  1. Yesterday Delta Chi was found not guilty by the Isabella County Court. The result was tax dollars spent by the city of Mount Pleasant to pay for court fines and lawyer fees for pursuing the grudge of the university and not doing what was out of the best interest of Mount Pleasant residents as a whole.

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