Planning Commission Considers New Developments

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Thursday, October 9, 2014, 5:20 pm
By: 
Chris Root

The East Lansing Planning Commission met last night (October 9), reviewing several important proposals in enough depth to have the meeting run over four hours. No votes were taking on these projects. The meeting concluded with one commissioner challenging critical remarks made by Mayor Nathan Triplett about the Commission on Triplett’s Facebook page. (ELi covers that in a separate report.)

The first hour of the meeting was taken up by a proposal from River Caddis, the development company headed by Kevin McGraw, for a rezoning request and site plan application for the commercial property at the corner of Coolidge Road and Lake Lansing Road. The plan includes space for a coffee shop, a “high-end” sub shop, and office space. Three residents of the nearby neighborhood expressed concerns about the development and noted that they had prolonged negotiations with the developer several years ago before the PNC bank was built on an adjoining site.

Most of the meeting consisted of further consideration of the “Building A” parking plan from Park District Investment Group (PDIG). This is the building that would be at the corner of Abbot Road and Grand River Avenue (a project separate from and not directly impacted by the ballot question about authorization to sell three City parking lots). The plan for the ten-story building calls for, among other occupants of the space, a hotel and rental units above the hotel.

After very long deliberations on the matter of the Building A parking plan, the Planning Commission was informed by a consultant for the developer who was involved in analyzing the parking plan, that the Commission had been told incorrectly that valet parking would be available only from the first floor underground, turning in from Albert Avenue. In fact, the plan also calls for ground-level valet service available to at least some hotel guests from a turn-in drop-off point on Abbot Road. This is only supposed to be accessed by people driving south on Abbot Road (not by drivers who would come from Grand River and have to turn left into this space across traffic on Abbot Road).

When this information was corrected, Chairperson Sheryl Soczek quickly concluded that a vote could not be taken at that meeting, and various Commission members pointed out that much of the analysis they had been discussing would need to be redone. It was not possible for the Commission to vote on the site plan for Building A because one of the conditions of the site plan is what is set forth in the parking plan. Commissioner Don Davis raised another concern about this building, urging that, when the Planning Commission acts on the site plan, it recommend to the City Council that it take steps to confirm that it has sufficient information to prove that the applicant will be able to finance the project.

There also were two agenda items about PDIG’s Building B, which would be erected along Evergreen Avenue and would contain retail space as well as apartments. The first item was a conditional rezoning request for this building. The Planning Commission was told by City Planning Staff that it would be helpful for them to consider this issue before the next meeting of the Transportation Commission, so they reviewed it but did not take action.

The second item about Building B was the site plan. The staff report noted that this could not be voted on this meeting because there was no recommendation about traffic from the Transportation Commission. Although the proposed four-story building appears to be much smaller than other structures being proposed in the Park District, Commission Vice Chair Julie Jones-Fisk pointed out that it has only three fewer rental units than the Residences, where HopCat is located.

Planning Commission’s agendas, including attachments, and recordings of the Planning Commission meetings can be viewed at the City’s website: http://www.cityofeastlansing.com/meetings For archived videos, scroll down to the last green bar on that page--which says “Planning Commission”-- and click on that. Then use your cursor to move the window view down until you see the meeting you want to view. You can also view Planning Commission meetings live through that page.

 

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