Council Capsule: August 4, 2015

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015, 11:02 am
Alice Dreger

Image: East Lansing paramedic/firefighter Matt Sterling who last night received the Paramedic of the Year Award.

Present: All members of Council were present: Mayor Nathan Triplett, Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris, Councilmembers Kathy Boyle, Ruth Beier, and Susan Woods.

Paramedic of the Year Award: East Lansing Fire Department’s (ELFD’s) Safety Training Officer Anita Sukis presented this award, along with Sparrow Hospital’s Emergency Department’s Dr. John Dery, to paramedic/firefighter Matt Sterling. Dery said that Sterling consistently provides great care and even once brought to the hospital Dery’s wife, who was suffering from bilateral pulmonary embolisms. Sterling introduced his extended family and thanked his colleagues in the ELFD, saying that none of this work is done alone. During his City Manager report, George Lahanas congratulated Sterling and also expressed sadness at the recent death of firefighter/paramedic Dan Sharp, son of firefighter Bill Sharp.

Sorority will replace Unitarian church: As ELi previously reported, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing will be moving from its current home at 855 Grove Street in East Lansing. Last night Council approved a Special Use Permit (SUP) that will allow a sorority to move in to the building (see the staff report). Conditions added to the SUP prohibits non-members to attend any gathering there that involves the serving of alcohol, and requires the presence of a live-in house mother.

According to City Planning staff Darcy Schmitt, the sorority will house up to 50 members at this location. She said the East Lansing Public Library director and leaders of All Saints Church have agreed to let the sorority use their parking lots for overflow events. Matt Steigenga of Sixty North, LLC, which is purchasing the property from the church, told Council the sorority that is moving in does not allow any alcohol in the building anyway, and that the sorority requires the presence of a house mother. No citizens communicated with Council in favor of or against the plan, including during the public hearing.

Bailey Community Center plan approved: Council unanimously approved option and lease agreements between the City and Capital Area Housing Partnership (CAHP) for the Bailey Community Center. This approval marks a necessary step in CAHP’s plan to apply for federal funding this fall to support the group’s plan to redevelop the Community Center. Read more in our special report.

Rooftop party ordinance decision deferred: After a good deal of discussion, Council unanimously voted to defer a decision on an ordinance that would explicitly outlaw recreational activities on rooftops not specifically designed for recreational use. Citizen attorney Patrick Rose strongly objected during the Public Hearing to City Attorney Tom Yeadon’s handling of this matter. Read more in our special report.

Park District pre-development agreement approved: Council unanimously approved a “pre-development agreement” with developer/landlord DTN for the Park District. The agreement covers only the publicly-owned properties in the Park District area on the west side of downtown, including several old houses along Evergreen Avenue and two parking lots. This marks DTN as the City’s “preferred developer” for the area.” Read more in our special report.

One Book, One Community plans in place: Kristin Shelley, Director of the East Lansing Public Library (ELPL), presented on plans for this year’s One Book, One Community programming. The book this year is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Shelley said this program is one of the best parts of her job. She described Stevenson as a compassionate and passionate speaker. He will be speaking on August 30 at the Hannah Community Center. The next day he’ll address the freshman class of MSU. Shelley also spoke of additional upcoming programming at ELPL.

Take on Hate campaign presentation: As we reported on Monday, to signal support for Muslim and Arab and Arab-American members of our community, Council has endorsed the national “Take on Hate” campaign via a resolution. Representatives of the Islamic Society of Greater Lansing and the Islamic Center of East Lansing were in attendance for the presentation, and two spoke about their experiences. Read more in our special report.

Communications from citizens: Remarks made by citizens at last night’s meeting are covered in our reports on the issues to which those citizens spoke. You can read all recent written communications to Council by clicking here. In those written communications:

  • Joe Baldori objected to tickets received for parking on his own property (see page 2).
  • Erick Williams called on Council to carry out a “nuisance demolition” of the blighted and vacant PDIG properties in the Park District (see page 3).
  • I notified Council of ELi reports on Council’s recent activities and asked them to send me any factual corrections needed (see pages 5-6; no corrections have been received).
  • Nathan Capper told Council about his campaign to make recycling available to residents in large rental complexes (see page 7).
  • Julie Thomas-Beckett asked why East Lansing’s downtown doesn’t attract more permanent residents and offered her suggestions (see page 9).
  • Eliot Singer provided information, opinion, and documents related to PDIG, including an update on legal troubles that may relate to PDIG’s principals (see page 13).
  • Eric Hanson called on Council to stop supporting the development of student rentals with Tax Increment Financing (TIF; see page 18).
  • Jeff Hudgins (page 12), Scott Hirko (page 19), and Patrick Rose (page 21) weighed in on the rooftop party ordinance; their remarks are covered in our special report on that ordinance.

Other reports: Councilmember Kathy Boyle reminded people that this weekend is the Great Lakes Folk Festival. She said she hoped everyone would go and enjoy the music, arts, and food. Mayor Nathan Triplett echoed Boyle’s comments and thanked the staff and performers who worked to make the Summer Concert Series a success. Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris thanked the people who spoke during the “Take on Hate” presentation and said her daughter has told her how great it was to grow up in a diverse place. Goddeeris also said her new son-in-law is an immigrant to the U.S.

Councilmembers Beier and Woods and City Attorney Tom Yeadon had nothing to report.

Consent agenda: The following items were approved on a “consent agenda,” meaning that they were approved by a single voice vote without further discussion.

  • Set a public hearing for September 1, 2015 for Ordinance No. 1349; a city-initiated ordinance to amend the language of the zoning code to allow for additional uses in the Community Facilities District: see ordinance and staff report.  
  • Approval of a resolution to change Precinct 9 polling location from the Bailey Community Center to Edgewood United Church: see staff memo and resolution.
  • Introduce and set for a public hearing on September 1, 2015 for taxicab rules: see staff memo and resolution.
  • Set a public hearing for September 1, 2015 for a Cluster Plan Development application from FP Investors, LLC for the Falcon Pointe property north of Hawk Nest Subdivision, near the intersection to Chandler and State Roads, to convert an existing manufactured housing community into a site condominium development. There are a total of 120 two-bedroom units being proposed: see staff report, application, and plans.
  • Defer to September 1, 2015 the Site Plan and Special Use Permit for the property at 565 E. Grand River Avenue to construct a five-story mixed-use building with 6,745 sq. ft. of commercial space on the first floor and a mix of two, three, and four bedroom apartments on the upper floors: see DDA recommendation, application, and plans.
  • Set a public hearing for September 1, 2015 for Brownfield Plan for 565 E. Grand River Avenue: see staff memo, Brownfield Plan, and excerpt from Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.
  • Approval of the appointment of Diane Wing to the Historic District Commission for a partial term ending December 31, 2017: see Wing’s application.
  • Set a public hearing for September 1, 2015 for Ordinance No. 1350; an application from WREL, LLC, to rezone the property at 3126 West Road from RA, Residential Agriculture District to B5, Community Retail Sales Business District; see staff report.
  • Set a public hearing for September 1, 2015 for Modified Special Use Permit application from Columbia East Lansing Hotel, Inc. for the property at 300 M.A.C. Avenue to modify its existing special use permit condition #7. The modification would allow the applicant to serve food and beverages in the Lobby Greatroom Restaurant until 2:00 a.m.: see staff report and application.


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