Council Capsule: October 6, 2015

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 8:00 am
Alice Dreger

Above: ELPD Officer Dave Dekorte and Crunchy’s, both subjects of Council’s work this week.

This week’s meeting of East Lansing’s City Council was videotaped. You can watch the meeting by clicking here. If there’s a particular item you are interested in, click on that item in the index shown below the video screen and the playback will jump to that part of the meeting.

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

Tin Can’s request to serve alcohol until 2 am approved in 3-2 vote: Council voted 3-2 to give the Tin Can Bar a Special Use Permit allowing them to be open and to serve alcohol until 2 am. Tin Can will be in the space currently occupied by Spencer’s Kitchen and Bar, also known as Stateside Deli (where Melting Moments Ice Cream used to be). See our special separate report on this.

Award given to retiring ELPD officer by MADD: East Lansing Police Department (ELPD) Deputy Chief Jeff Murphy introduced Officer Dave Dekorte, who will be retiring next month. DeKorte was awarded the Outstanding Officer Award in 2014 by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for distinguished service and dedication to drunk driving enforcement. DeKorte also received the award in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Murphy said that Dekorte’s work with ELPD, which started in 1984, has mostly been as a road patrol officer, mostly working on the night shift. Murphy said Dekorte focused on stopping drunk drivers. Murphy said that Dekorte averaged over 40 drunk driving arrests per year, and estimated that he was responsible for about 1400 drunk driving arrests in his ELPD career. Council thanked him for his service.

Crunchy’s can now sell alcohol take-out: Crunchy’s, recently purchased by manager Michael Krueger, asked Council for permission to sell alcohol take-out, including beer growlers. Council approved the application in a 5-0 vote. Read the conditions on the approval here.

According to City Planning staff member Darcy Schmitt, Thad Morgan indicated for Peoples Church that the church has no problem with the request and finds Crunchy’s to be a good neighbor. There were no public comments for or against during the public hearing.

During Council’s discussion of the matter, Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris said Crunchy’s is a unique business with a “hometown feel” that benefits the community. In mentioning how good the staff there is at following good business practices, she said she had tried to get in without her ID and was repeatedly refused until she almost thought she’d have to call home for her ID. Councilmember Kathy Boyle also praised Crunchy’s and said she thought it “ideally suited to growlers” because of its extensive craft beer menu.

Renaming of Waste Water Treatment Plant and recognition of employees: City Manager George Lahanas presented to Council several employees of the City’s Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP), which serves East Lansing, MSU, and Meridian Township. The plant is being upgraded at a cost upwards of $50 million and Lahanas said this is a great time to acknowledge the service of the employees there. He also asked Council to vote to rename the plant the “Water Resource Recovery Facility” which, he says, better captures the work cleaning the “precious resource” that is our water.

Lahanas called the employees’ work “an astounding process” and “an outstanding operation.” Department of Public Works Director Scott House introduced employees by name, including Superintendent Paul Stokes, City engineer Bob Scheuerman, Jose Mireles, Allesha Morris, Todd Nichols, and Scot Howell.  Stokes and Scheuerman were recently recognized with awards from the Michigan Water Environment Association.

During the special presentation, there was no mention made of the lawsuit by some of plant employees against the City for alleged safety violations, nor of the mercury and asbestos contamination problems that occurred under Stokes’ and House’s immediate predecessors. Council voted during the later consent agenda to rename the plant per the City staff’s request.

Councilmember reports:

Councilmember Susan Woods said she “enjoyed so much being in the Homecoming Parade and handing out pom-poms” instead of candy and “getting the whole experience of this town.”

Councilmember Kathy Boyle said that the senior program Prime Time will be having its annual health fair and flu clinic this Thursday from 9 am until noon at the Hannah Community Center. She said that flu and pneumonia shots as well as free health screenings will be available to those 55 and over. Attendees can also earn about the “Fit for Life” program of exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes aimed at helping people 55 and over.

Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris reminded people that the Rally for the Alleys is happening tomorrow at 4 pm downtown and that it will include activities for children and families. Read more. Goddeeris also reminded people that at the Hannah Community Center they can purchase gift cards for use at various downtown businesses.

Mayor Nathan Triplett asked people to understand that if the crowdsourcing funding goal for the funding of the alley-way art is not met by its November deadline, the matching funding will not be provided. He also mentioned Monday’s press conference about the new single-stream curbside recycling and said that today was the first pick-up and that it netted about 11,000 pounds of recycled material. He also announced that Amcor, an international packaging corporation, will be paying for recycling bins for East Lansing’s downtown patrons.

Councilmember Ruth Beier had no report, nor did the City Manager or City Attorney.

Consent agenda: The following items were passed under a “consent agenda,” meaning they were voted through (5-0) without further discussion:

  • Approval of the street closure request from Lambda Chi Alpha on October 10, 2015, for the Junior 500 Philanthropy Race supporting Ele’s Place, an organization dedicated to grieving children. During public comments, two members of the fraternity spoke about the importance of this work. One spoke to how his father, who lost his mother when he was five years old, was very negatively effected by unprocessed grief.
  • Approval of a resolution renaming the East Lansing Waste Water Treatment Plant to the Water Resource Recovery Facility and acknowledging the dedicated public servants who run the facility.
  • Approval of a claim in the amount of $2,704.05 made against the City because a police officer parked a vehicle in neutral instead of park and struck another vehicle; read more.
  • Approval to pay a workman’s comp claim in the amount of $75,000 brought by firefighter Peter Counseller “who was injured in the course of his job duties on February 20, 2014.”
  • Approval of a leave of absence for Arts Commissioner Michael Koppisch due to “a long-term scheduling conflict.”
  • Approval of the appointment of Julia Christensen to the Human Relations Commission.
  • Approval of the appointment of Michael Pendy to the Human Relations Commission.
  • Approval of the appointment of Nakia White Barr to the Housing Commission.
  • Approval of the appointment of Davia Cox Downey to the Housing Commission.
  • Approval of the appointment of Richard Metaj to the University Student Commission.
  • Approval of the appointment of Connor Berdy to the University Student Commission.
  • Approval of a referral of a misdemeanor prosecution of Jaime Garcia Davila to Cullen Harkness because City Attorney Tom Yeadon has “been informed that Mr. Davila is a former client of our law firm”; read more.
  • Introduce and set a public hearing for October 20, 2015, “to consider partial conversion of the Bailey Community Center from a public use to a limited private use and dedication of the property at the northeast corner of Albert Avenue and Abbot Road as a park”; read more.
  • Approval of the Housing Commission’s recommendation for a conditional Class III rental license for 1852 Burrwood Circle; read more.
  • Approval of the Housing Commission’s recommendation for a Class III rental license for 615 Albert Avenue; read more.
  • Approval of the Housing Commission’s recommendation for a Class III rental license for 3967 Halter Lane; read more.


Public comments: All public comments made at this week’s meeting are reported by us in the news sections to which they relate.

Written communications received by Council since the last regular meeting include letters about: Tin Can; out of control parties on Evergreen and Oakhill; ticketing visitors to the City; parking in Chesterfield Hills (and alleged joking and snickering at the Transportation Commission); notice of a vacant/abandoned property at 217 Center Street received by a man who has owned and lived at the property since 1969; interest in creating a home “for both political and economic refugees as well as veterans” at MSU’s Spartan Village Apartments; concerns about where and how to legally store the large new recycling carts; concerns about the tax increment financing on 565 East Grand River Avenue; questions about MSU’s management of and ability to manage Scene Metrospace; a request to bow-hunt deer; objections to a possible rooftop party ordinance; questions about why BWL won’t answer requests to determine whether a tree threatening power lines is something BWL is responsible for; a suggestion that the City and MSU host organized bonfires after big games; objections to Triplett’s claims about the City’s debt status; a question about whether and when the charred mattress at 125 Fern Street (following the Oregon-MSU game) was going to be cleaned up; and a letter of concern from the Red Cedar Neighborhood about “water runoff from the MSU development behind Marigold Avenue.”

You can read those recent written communications received by Council from the public here and here.

Reminder: You can communicate with Council in person at its weekly meetings or write to Council directly at You can speak or write on any issue involving the City, not only what is on the published agenda.

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