Big Week of Meetings Coming for East Lansing

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Another downtown mural for the Albert Ave. parking garage? The Arts Commission is set to discuss the concept.

Here’s a rundown of what’s happening in terms of public meetings this week in East Lansing.

The East Lansing Public Schools’ Board of Ed will meet starting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 12, to discuss a number of items, including the roadmap for returning to in-person classes. Find more information here. As always, ELi will be bringing a report of what happens at the meeting.

After months of delay, the Study Committee on an Independent Police Oversight Commission, a specially-convened citizen group, will finally hold its first meeting on Monday, Oct. 12, also starting at 6 p.m.

City Manager George Lahanas has decided to have that committee’s administrative organization be handled by staff from ELPD. See the agenda, details to call-in, and viewing information here.

City Council meets Tuesday, Oct. 13, starting at 7 p.m., and word on the street is that we can expect some action aimed to getting students to be holding fewer noisy parties that may contribute to spread of Covid-19.

The Council’s published agenda shows a resolution regarding emergency public health orders plus Council approving a conflict-of-interest waiver for the new City Attorney, Foster Swift, as they represent the City in the final sale of Lot 4 to MSUFCU for construction of a new office building. Council will also hear a strategic priorities update.

Perhaps of most interest on Council’s agenda is a planned presentation by Tom Fehrenbach, Director of Planning, on the DDA’s Evergreen Properties. We had expected River Caddis Development to ask soon for a very long exclusive-contract extension, but if that’s the case, the City isn’t showing the cards.

River Caddis Development’s rendering of “The Citadel,” what the company has said it wants to construct on the DDA’s Evergreen Avenue properties, seen looking west across Albert Ave.

It’s curious that the DDA’s two committee agendas for this Thursday, Oct. 14 (Executive/Finance and Projects & Infrastructure) also don’t show any hint of a River Caddis contract extension coming forward. That said, if a major contract is ultimately presented at the last minute to the DDA, with no time for the public to see the deal before it’s signed, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that happened on the Evergreen Properties.

On Thursday, Oct. 15, the DDA P&I committee is definitely planning to talk about the request from DTN to convert ground-floor retail space at 300 West Grand River to six small apartments – a controversial request because some on City staff (including the City Manager) have tended to favor retail on ground floors for “activated” streetscapes. The theory of “activated retail” is good, but vacancies don’t really result in activation, so some people think conversion to apartments makes more sense in some commercial locations.

Raymond Holt for ELi

“300 Grand” as seen from The Abbot in January 2020.

On Wednesday night, the Planning Commission will take up the same issue for a likely decision about what to recommend to Council on “300 Grand.”

Earlier on Wednesday, starting at noon, the DDA’s Public Policy & Market Development Committee will discuss commercial-space vacancies downtown. Check out the vacancies here.

On Thursday, Oct. 15, starting at 5 p.m., the Arts Commission will discuss a proposed artwork for a new marijuana retail location on Grand River Avenue and will go over other projects around town, including a possible parking garage mural, the Greetings Tour mural for the Harrison Roadhouse, and a possible sculpture donation; see the agenda here.

Finally, on Thursday at 7 p.m., the Housing Commission will be hearing an overview from Sharon Woods of Land Use/USA about the housing study that is planned on “being conducted over the next few months.” So we guess that’s alive again, after being put on hold indefinitely? Check out the agenda here.

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