Council Capsule: February 24, 2015

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 10:12 am
Alice Dreger

Image: City Council last night

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

PDIG: Council considered four major issues with regard to the proposed projects from PDIG, including (1) the proposed site plan and (2) the special use permits application for “Building A” (the building proposed for construction at the corner of Abbot Road and Grand River Avenue), (3) the drafted development agreement between the developer and the City, and (4) the tax increment financing (TIF) plan. Chris Root has a special report on this for ELi: click here.

Public comments: Ralph Monsma spoke on the PDIG issues, and his comments are covered in Chris Root’s article. I (Alice Dreger) spoke on the mercury spill and failure on the part of the City to appropriately investigate, track, or even understand the spill. I noted that as late as October 2014 the City Manager seemed still not to understand that the Health Department did not clean up the contaminated equipment at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The way it was mishandled seems to show, I said, a disregard for worker safety, for the safety of the public, and for the wellbeing of the Red Cedar River. I will present a longer analysis of my findings on this story at next week’s regular Council meeting.

Sewer easements at Eastwood Towne Center: City engineer Bob Scheuerman brought forth three sewer easement agreements that have been drafted between the City and companies that own portions of Eastwood Towne Center. He said the agreements were acceptable to both parties and they are seeking Council approval.  A fourth agreement with another party is expected to be finished soon. Council is expected to approve the three easements.

Air right easement for 903 East Grand River: City Planning staff is seeking approval from Council for an air right easement for the project known as “The Element 903.” According to Tim Dempsey, Director of Planning, the project as it exists involves a 6-inch overhang of an upper cornice over Kedzie Street. The owners were told they had to either redesign the building or get an easement. The easement is for about 2’ by 3’ and for about 45 feet up in the air. The easement agreement has been approved by the City’s attorney and the owner.

Councilmember Beier asked why they needed a 2’ x 3’ easement for a 6” overhang. Dempsey said the City wanted to give them extra space to deal with the issue. He said the easement is actually 1.87’ at its widest and 1.66’ at the north end because of how the lot line works.

Mayor Pro Tem Goddeeris asked if there had been easements similar to this before. Dempsey said there was one done for an easement over the patio at The Residences and that something more complicated was done for the City Center 1 project where the City vacated the alleyway and then was granted a permanent easement in the back, because of what was required by the financing structure. He said this is probably the smallest easement of this kind that they have done. Council is expected to approve this easement.

MSUFCU expanding:  Michigan State University Federal Credit Union has applied for approval of a Site Plan and Special Use Permit approval for the property at 2800 State Road to construct a new 187,300 square foot, three-story office building to the north of the existing headquarters building. This is expected to be a LEED-certified building. The Credit Union is asking for a waiver to exceed the normal maximum allowed parking because they host a lot of large public events. April Clobes, incoming CEO of the Credit Union, attended the meeting. A public hearing on the project is set for the March 17 meeting of Council.

Signatory for mayor’s amicus brief: Council unanimously approved adding the name of the City of East Lansing to an amicus brief going to the Supreme Court. The brief supports the right of same-gender couples to marry. The brief is due Monday so had to be approved at the work session of Council if it was going to be sent in with the City’s name. Mayor Triplett said it was time to get the right decision by the Supreme Court “because the 6th Circuit got it wrong.”

Councilmember reports:

Mayor Pro Tem Goddeeris reported that she had met as a member of the intergovernmental committee with representatives of the school board, representatives from Council, the City Manager, and the Superintendent of East Lansing Public Schools. They laid out what they want to do at their upcoming joint meeting. One issue is how to communicate about the schools to people who do not have family members in the school system. The district wanted more of the marketing brochures designed by Councilmember Woods that feature the schools. The groups are also talking about their budgets and plans for the future. The school district plans soon to work on the question of what to do with the Red Cedar School. City Manager Lahanas added to this that the City had “offered our robust communications department” for the school’s use as appropriate.

The rest of Council had no reports.

City Manager report: Lahanas said he and Director of Public Works Scott House are going to be available to meet with groups to talk about the budget. He has already talked to the Library Board. He said their presentation is long and they are trying to do it quicker. They have plans to talk to boards and commissions and are available to talk with neighborhood associations.


UPDATE, February 25, 12:30 pm: This article was updated to include a hotlink to the marketing brochure mentioned in Mayor Pro Tem Goddeeris's report. © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info