Council Mandates EV Charging Stations on Some Private Properties

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019, 8:40 am
Brad Minor

The East Lansing City Council voted 5-0 at its March 26 meeting to approve an ordinance that will require a Level 2 or better electric vehicle (EV) charging station be installed in new private-property parking lots with at least 50 spaces.

Council Members view this as an environmentally-responsible planning approach, while some local business owners object to the mandate.

The ordinance will apply to new-construction commercial businesses, mixed-use buildings, and multiple family residential properties within the City of East Lansing.

The ordinance also will apply to site plan modifications that expand existing parking lots that have 50 spaces or more.

All chargers required by the ordinance have to be maintained operational.

Property owners and developers can apply for exemptions if they believe the cost of installing the charging station would outweigh the benefit. They can also obtain exemption from the ordinance if the anticipated use of the charging station would be low due to the average duration of parking at the property.

Prior to the meeting, the City Council received pushback in response to Ordinance 1445, legislation promoted by Mayor Pro Tem Erik Altmann.

Matt Hagen of Hagen Real Estate attended the meeting and also emailed David Haywood, the City’s Planning and Zoning administrator, taking issue with the ordinance’s inclusion of multi-family residential properties.

“In reading some of the changes proposed by one of the [East Lansing Planning] Commissioners, we were surprised to see that it was now potentially only going to be a requirement for buildings with multi-family type units and not commercial property,” Hagen wrote in the email. “While we are opposed to having it as a requirement for any property, having them required for one and not the other isn’t something we would agree with either.”

Correspondence from the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce urged the Council to table the ordinance, citing lack of demand for charging stations and the financial burden it would place on business owners.

Council Member Shanna Draheim said although there is a lot of transformation going on in the EV market, it is universally agreed that the market share for electric vehicles will continue to grow. She said the only way for electric vehicles to become more prevalent is for charging stations to become more prevalent.

“Not everyone has the ability to charge their electric vehicle at their residence, [because] there may be power use restrictions or a lack of infrastructure,” Draheim said. “If I’m a renter and the price of the car is high and I don't have a place to charge it, those are two real barriers to market adoption.”

Draheim went on to address the effect of automobiles on climate change.

“Transportation is our country’s largest source of emissions,” Draheim said. “And EV’s are one of the most promising ways to address that. I think it is incumbent on us to make sure that comes to fruition.”

Draheim and Altmann introduced several amendments to the ordinance.

Altmann brought up the suggestion that the Planning Commission made at its meeting that any modification to a site's parking lot plan would trigger the ordinance. He proposed that the language in the ordinance change from “expands parking lot” to “modifies parking lot.”

“So even a reduction?” asked Mayor MarkMeadows.

“That's the issue, any change would require retrofitting,” replied Altmann.

The amendment was voted down unanimously and the language was kept as “expands”.

The Council also adopted an amendment to the ordinance that clarified who gets to use which charging stations. On private property such as a multi-family apartment complex, the owner of the property can decide whether or not they want to let non-residents charge there. They can also decide whether or not they want to reserve the space for electric vehicles or not.

EV charging stations on public property are open to the public but subject to the lot’s normal restrictions, including a two-hour maximum stay at some locations. Charging stations on public property are reserved for electric vehicles only.

Altmann, who drives an electric vehicle, suggested a guide for developers similar to one used in Ann Arbor (see it here).

”You need to put electricity in your car just like you need to put gasoline in your car, you need charging stations everywhere,” Altmann said.

Altmann explained that when he and other electric vehicle drivers are planning a trip they use an app called Plugshare, which pinpoints locations of charging stations. By increasing the number of stations in East Lansing, he said people would make it a stop along their route.

“What will happen is if there are a lot of stations here people will park their car and go and spend money at local businesses,” Altmann said. © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info