What Did East Lansing’s City Council Decide This Week?

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019, 11:56 am
Alice Dreger

Photos from last night’s meeting by Raymond Holt.

In a three-hour meeting, East Lansing’s City Council worked through an unusually large amount of business. Here’s a quick rundown.

Council member will travel to Azerbaijan as part of delegation: Council member Aaron Stephens (above, middle) announced last night that he is headed overseas today because, as a Michigan elected official of Armenian heritage, he has been asked to attend the Pro Artsakh Forum.

On his Facebook announcement about the trip, Stephens explained, “Artsakh is recognized still as part of Azerbaijan but has been fighting for independence for years. In attendance will be members of the Michigan Legislature as well as some from the national level of government in the United States.”

Chesterfield Hills gets a housing war chest: Years ago, the Campus Village 2 apartment project was supposed to result in the conversion of 25 rental houses in Chesterfield Hills into owner-occupied houses. A deal was struck where by the developer would get Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funding in exchange for working on the conversions.

Only seven houses were converted. Now, following a complex series of assignments and agreements, as the TIF plan ends, the City will end up with a total of $300,000 meant for pursuing more conversions of rental houses to owner-occupied houses in Chesterfield Hills.

How far that money will go in that pursuit and what approach will be taken remain to be seen. Council is likely to discuss this at its October 22 meeting.

Council voted 5-0 against the Royal Vlahakis project: ELi’s Chris Root brings you that story. Read it here.

There were several marijuana retail sales decisions: Council voted 5-0 to schedule a public hearing on October 29 to consider Ordinance 1469, a law that would allow for the sale of recreational marijuana in East Lansing locations already approved for the sale of medical marijuana.

Council also voted 5-0 in favor of site changes to a marijuana provisioning center being established at what has been a dentist’s office on Merritt Road (just south of the public land sold on eBay).

Following the advice of staff and the City Attorney, Council voted 5-0 against accepting the request from the owners of the property that houses Oades Big Ten liquor store, 1108 E. Grand River Ave., to have that property conditionally rezoned to allow for the sale of marijuana.

We’ll be bringing you a story in the coming days about marijuana sales in East Lansing.

Target and Jolly Pumpkin were both given approval to sell alcohol: After the lawyer for Target came and performed a major mea culpa, Council voted 5-0 to give the store local permission to sell beer, wine, and liquor, which it has been doing since it opened. (Target had the required state licenses but not the local permit required.)

The Council decided that on October 22, at its “discussion only” meeting, it will dig into the question of how City staff ought to be handling situations in which stores are selling alcohol before they have the local permit to do so.

Jolly Pumpkin received a 5-0 vote in favor of its application to sell alcohol at its forthcoming location along Albert Avenue.

We’ll be bringing you a story in the coming days about alcohol sales in East Lansing.

Gaslight Village finally got approvals: Tailwind Group, owner of Gaslight Village up on the east side of Abbot Road just north of Lake Lansing Road – the apartment building with the purple roof – received unanimous votes in favor of its two requests last night.

Tailwind Group can now lease apartments for periods of less than two years and can construct an additional 50 two-bedroom residential units in a mix of three- and four-unit buildings in the back. Tailwind’s request to convert “existing commercial space to two residential units” was also approved.

Cedar Village gets a sorority: Council approved a request from GTW Investment Properties to build a new sorority at 215-217 River Village in the area commonly known as Cedar Village and formally known as East Village. The matter proved challenging to work through because of the form-based code in the East Village.

Council is planning a public hearing on revision of the special East Village form-based code to December. This potential revision comes chiefly in response to the desire by national student-housing developer Core Spaces to build more Hub towers along Bogue Street. Given that the election falls on November 5, this means it will be the next City Council that decides how to handle this revision.

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