Council Meets New ELPD Officers, Passes Climate Resolution

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 8:30 am
Alice Dreger

Above: City Council congratulating and thanking new members of the East Lansing Police Department

Last night’s City Council meeting was relatively brief, lasting only about an hour. All members of Council were present, and the most time was spent discussing deer management. Following discussion with staff, Council passed an ordinance that gives Council the ability to authorize the killing of deer by government-authorized hunters on City-owned land. Council members were divided on the question of whether organized culls should begin soon. See ELi’s special report on this.

Here’s the rest of your weekly Council Capsule from ELi:

New ELPD officers introduced: East Lansing Police Captain Larry Sparkes introduced four new ELPD officers to City Council. Officer Matt Swab is a graduate of the Mid-Michigan Police Academy in Lansing, a former deputy with the Ingham County Sheriff’s office, and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. Officer Ben Moomersteeg graduated from the Oakland Police Academy and worked previously in loss prevention and security. Officer Chelsea Morehead also graduated from the Mid-Michigan Policy Academy and had served as a police cadet for the ELPD. Officer Jeremy Hamilton graduated from the Mid-Michigan Police Academy and is an emergency manager for the Air National Guard. All four earned their bachelor’s degrees at MSU.

Climate change resolution: Council unanimously passed a resolution “acknowledge[ing] the serious threat posed by climate change” and  “[urging] Congress to move expeditiously in adopting economic incentives and policies to preserve our nation for future generations.”

During public comments, Carolyn Randall of the Lansing Chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby praised the East Lansing Commission on the Environment and City Council for moving this resolution forward. She said that she thought this resolution would serve as a model for other cities.

Input sought on new recording style: Last week for the first time Council’s session was video-recorded using a fixed-camera style. This approach (similar to what is used for Planning Commission) has been introduced as a way to provide a video-recording of some Council meetings while saving money compared to the usual manned-camera approach. During his Councilmember report, Erik Altmann asked community members to provide feedback on that style of recording.

Other Councilmember reports: Shanna Draheim praised City staff for their work on the pop-up ice rink and said she hopes this enjoyable amenity will be back in the future. Susan Woods reminded everyone that the Crystal Awards will be given in April. Ruth Beier reported that there is a hearing in the State House office building on Wednesday, February 24, on HB-5232, the bill designed to reduce regulation in historic districts statewide.  She urged those interested to attend the hearing at noon in room 307.

Financial health team to start meeting: City Manager George Lahanas told Council that the Financial Health Team appointed by Council will meet for the first time this coming Monday, February 29, at 9 a.m. in City Hall. He said the first meeting will consist of organizational work along with presentations from Lahanas and City Finance Director Mary Haskell. The meeting is open to the public.

Fraternity on Harrison Road seeking to expand: Council set a public hearing for March 15, 2016, to hear public comments on an application by the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house to expand and renovate their building at 342 Harrison Road. If approved, the building will go from a maximum occupancy of 40 to 49. There will also be an extension of the patio and various landscape improvements.

Window wells may be allowed to encroach on side-yard setbacks: Council set a public hearing for March 15, 2016, in order to hear public comment on Ordinance 1359, “an ordinance…to allow for an increase in allowed window well encroachment into the side yard setback.” The Zoning Board of Appeals has recently approved three requests to allow window wells for basement living spaces to encroach beyond standard side yard setbacks, and as a result suggested that Council change the zoning code to allow this.

Streets to be closed for the Art Festival: On its consent agenda, Council approved various street and parking lot closures to accommodate the Art Festival May 21-22, 2016.

Written communications received by Council: Recent communications received by Council include an email from MSU student Matt Carroll expressing interest in starting a food truck business; from Ryan Latourette of Capital Drones, a detailed objection to the passing of an ordinance outlawing certain uses of some flying drones; a communication from Cynthia Sabin questioning the City’s management of certain finable offenses and of expenditures; an email from Bert Seyfarth regarding City finances; a staff exchange with Meri Anne Stowe regarding questions about deer; and a message from Eliot Singer regarding “tax giveaways to developers.”

Appointment to Board of Review: Council approved the appointment of Megan Doyle-Busque to the Board of Review for full a term ending December 31, 2018.

Extended-stay hotel to be converted to apartments: The extended-stay hotel at 1600 East Grand River Avenue (just east of Hagadorn Road) will be converted to use as apartments following unanimous approval by Council of the conversion plan. We have a separate report on this.


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