Council Condemns House, Allows Pumpkin Parking

Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 11:51 pm
By: 
Alice Dreger

Above: 631 Lexington Avenue (courtesy Google Maps) and the Colorful Parking Structure.

East Lansing’s City Council met for its regular meeting yesterday (October 25, 2016) and, among other issues, condemned a house said to be in serious disrepair and ceded to a resident’s request to suspend the usual time-limited parking regulations during the annual Great Pumpkin Walk downtown. Councilmember Shanna Draheim was absent from the meeting because she was attending the soccer tournament at the East Lansing High School where her son was playing.

Council condemns house in Bailey neighborhood: Following a brief administrative hearing, Council voted unanimously (4-0) to allow the demolition of the house located at 631 Lexington Avenue 60 days from now. The City has had housing inspectors out to investigate the property, and according to City Attorney Tom Yeadon, the owner was warned he would have to fix major problems on the house or it would be ordered demolished. He had not made the repairs.

The owner, Daniel O’Connell, spoke to Council during the hearing. He alternated between saying the house was not really a “dangerous building” and saying the house needed to be demolished because it was not worth putting in the money that would be needed to fix it to make it habitable.

O’Connell described the house as a “solid” 70-year-old, small, two-bedroom house. He told Council he is in the process of moving his belongings to a new residence 200 miles north of East Lansing and that 60 days will be enough time for him to finish the move.

Council suspends normal parking time limits during Great Pumpkin Walk: The Great Pumpkin Walk, an annual Halloween event for children held in the downtown area, will be held on the evening of October 27 this year. Following a letter from a constituent who complained of being ticketed in the past for parking during the event, Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier moved that parking time limits be suspended during the event in the downtown area. Council voted 4-0 in favor of suspending normal parking time limits in the downtown area during the event.

Recreational uses not allowed in B4 zoning districts: Following a similar decision by the East Lansing Planning Commission, Council voted unanimously (4-0) against draft Ordinance 1376 which would have allowed “light recreational uses” in buildings zoned B4. An owner of a building located near where Harrison Road meets Lake Lansing Road wanted to allow a tenant to construct an “escape room” at that location. Council decided there could be too many unintended consequences of unilaterally allowing light recreational uses in B4 buildings.

Woods announces East Lansing Film Festival: Councilmember Susan Woods used the “Councilmember reports” portion of the agenda to announce that the East Lansing Film Festival will be happening November 3-10. She encouraged everyone to go to the festival’s website to learn more. Woods is employed by the Festival as the Executive Director and the City provides grants to support the Festival.

Ribbon-cutting for Newbie Tea: Mayor Mark Meadows announced that he attended the ribbon-cutting for Newby Tea, a London-based specialty tea company that has opened its North American distribution office in downtown East Lansing. Meadows said he was “thrilled” the company had located in East Lansing and formally issued them “a public welcome.”

More contracts approved for the sewage system: Council awarded an engineering contract for the Biosolids Master Plan to Donohue & Associates worth $210,000. Council also awarded an engineering contract for the Combined Sewer System Modeling project to Tetra Tech. That contract is for about $581,000. And Council awarded a contract worth $459,700 to Inland Waters Pollution Control, Inc., for the 2016 Sewer Rehabilitation Project Brody Interceptor and “other miscellaneous sewers.”

Sundance Jewelers relocating: Sundance Jewelers, which has been in downtown East Lansing since 1974, is relocating to 330 Albert Avenue, a first-floor space underneath the Charles Street Parking Garage. Council approved the lease, as required.

Grounds contract awarded: Once again, Hundred Acre Woods, Inc., of Williamston, was awarded an annual contract for grounds-keeping at the soccer complex and Hannah Community Center. This year the contract is worth $84,360 to the company.

Avondale Square project nearer to completion:  Council agreed to allow changes to the master deed of the Avondale Square project (near the Bailey School) in preparation for more houses being constructed. According to a staff memo, the last two lots in the project may be sold soon.

Winterglow to happen on December 3: Council approved street closures and amplified sound for the annual Winterglow festival, which will be held downtown on December 3, 2016. According to a staff memo, this year the event “will feature ice carving, a winter barnyard, horse and carriage rides, a special outdoor holiday farmer’s market, a heated music tent, children’s activities & games, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus…, marshmallow roasting, merchant activities, hot chocolate, and much more. It’s free!”

Council approves retirement resolution: Council approved, without discussion, a resolution to adopt Public Act 88 which “provides for the preservation and continuity of retirement system service credits for public employees who transfer their employment between units of government.” According to Shelli Neumann, East Lansing’s Human Resources Director, “the primary reason for adopting the resolution is because it serves as a recruiting tool…especially in our public safety professions.”

Request by Burcham solar project developer to get tax exemption: Patriot Solar Garden East Lansing, LLC, which expects to build a solar project at Burcham Park, has requested a ten-year exemption from personal property tax, which is tax on certain goods owned by certain businesses in East Lansing. Council voted to hold a public hearing on the matter on November 9, 2016. Council also set a public hearing on the same day on the question of whether to create an Industrial Development District at the park to allow the solar project.

You can watch this week’s Council meeting for yourself by clicking here. If you click on the index items you’re interested in, below the screen, the playback will jump to the portion you want to watch.

Reminder: You can speak at any City Council meeting during public comments or write to Council on any issue at council@cityofeastlansing.com.