Lansing Quick to Help Business After East Lansing Says No
Last week, we reported the struggles of two local businessmen who were trying to move their College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise operation to East Lansing. Following ELi’s reporting, no progress has been made in this city. But Lansing leaders interested in economic development have stepped up to encourage the moving, recycling, and trash-hauling business to stay in Lansing.
Franchise co-owner and East Lansing resident Bill Willbrandt tells us that, within a few days of publication of the ELi article outlining their problems trying to find a site to relocate their business from Lansing to East Lansing, he had been contacted by Lansing City Council Member Peter Spadafore, a member of Lansing Mayor Andy Schor’s staff, and a representative from the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP).
All were calling to offer assistance to help Willbrandt and his business partner, Clark Burkle, find a suitable place for College Hunks to relocate while staying within the City of Lansing.
The experience in East Lansing has been different.
The business partners did meet with East Lansing Planning staff to discuss their options for finding a suitable piece of property within the East Lansing City limits. According to Willbrandt, the East Lansing employees were interested, but couldn’t offer an easy solution to the lack of available locations with industrial zoning within the city.
In an email Willbrandt, summed up their meeting by saying, “While it seemed that the East Lansing employees were sympathetic, they were really at a loss to offer much real help without us spending a pretty fair amount of money to initiate the process of changing the entire zoning code for the northern tier.”
East Lansing’s zoning code is due for a major overhaul according to Tim Dempsey, Director of Planning Building and Development. East Lansing’s new master plan, “The Bigger Picture,” contains plans for “future land use” that are consistent with allowing more industrial uses in the Northern Tier.
But the time and money the City of East Lansing would expect Willbrandt and Burkle to spend on this makes an attempted move to East Lansing unattractive.
Willbrandt continued in his email, “We can’t say that [City Staff] were bad guys, but obviously they feel that the City Council has no appetite for looking at zoning issues with all of the major problems that they are facing.”
We reached out on this story several days ago to the Planning and Economic Development staff at the City of East Lansing, but did not receive a reply.
“It all makes me feel like Lansing might be a better place to locate our business,” Willbrandt concluded.