Significant Vacancies on East Lansing Government Commissions

Print More

Raymond Holt for ELi

Jill Rhode and Greg Ballein at the DDA meeting of October 24, 2019. Rhode's recent resignation from the DDA/BRA has left vacancies on those boards.

The newly reconstituted East Lansing City Council will need to make appointments to several volunteer boards and commissions – and that means now is the time to apply if you are interested in serving.

Dana Watson’s appointment to Council means she can no longer serve as a voting member of the Planning Commission. This brings to two the number of vacancies on the Planning Commission, as another was created with the recent resignation of Commissioner Dale Downes.

While most votes of the Planning Commission must be in the form of recommendations to Council – the Planning Commission’s votes are not the final deciding votes on new site plans – the Commission often has a significant overall impact on some specific conditions for individual site plans and discussions around planning and development in the City.

Current issues before the Planning Commission include the MSUFCU site plan, recreational marijuana retail sales, and a host of lot-split, rezoning, and site plan applications.  

A vacancy has also cropped up on the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Brownfield Development Authority (BRA). The Council has made a practice of using the same membership for the DDA and BRA, so whomever is appointed would sit on both boards.

The DDA/BRA vacancy has been caused by the City’s first Income Tax Administrator, Damar Boyd, leaving the City’s employee to take a job elsewhere.

Andrew Graham for ELi

East Lansing’s first Income Tax Administrator, Damar Boyd, has left to accept employment elsewhere.

The City decided to hire Jill Rhode, who had been serving on DDA/BRA, to Boyd’s post, so Rhode had to resign from the DDA/BRA.

According to the DDA’s Bylaws, the seats must be divided according to specific constituencies, and the current particular DDA vacancy is specifically limited to someone who lives in the DDA district (as Rhode does). Any adult whose legal residency in the DDA district is eligible to apply, and that includes people currently in school at MSU.

Courtesy City of East Lansing

Map of the East Lansing DDA district.

The DDA has expanded its role over time, now handling a significant amount of business in East Lansing – everything from big redevelopment deals like the Center City District project to the question of whether to support allowing food trucks in the DDA district.

The job on the BRA is also significant, as that group reviews and votes on tax increment financing (TIF) plans and bonds related to TIF plans. Right now, the BRA is dealing with the question of how to manage refinancing of the Center City District bond.

The Human Relations Commission also has a new vacancy. This was caused by Talyce Murray, who had been chair, moving to a new address just outside the City’s limits.

This page at the City’s website shows the current vacancies on boards and commissions. But note that often vacancies pop up and are filled without much notice, so if there is one on which you are interested in serving, it makes sense to put in an application now to be considered when a vacancy arises.

To apply to serve on the Planning Commission, DDA/BRA, HRC, or any of the City’s regular boards and commissions, click here and scroll down to “Board Application.” Click “create” to start the process.

The Study Committee on an Independent Police Oversight Commission is a specially-convened “ad hoc” committee, and Ron Bacon’s appointment to Council means he cannot also serve on that committee. That group has not yet convened, so if the appointment is made soon, whoever is named to replace Bacon will start work at the same time as the rest of the group.

It’s possible Council will simply decide to draw from the previous round of applicants for the Study Committee, which totaled about 45. Mayor Aaron Stephens tells ELi the new Council has yet to decide that question. But if you want to try applying, the form to apply for that committee is here.

City Council approves appointments to Boards and Commissions and to the ad hoc Study Committee. Typically one Council member recommends who to appoint – the choice is often made either by the mayor or the council member who is council’s liaison to the group in in question – and the rest of Council votes to approve.

Update: This article was changed at 2:50 p.m. on day of publication to note there are now two vacancies on Planning Commission because of the recent resignation of Commissioner Dale Downes. The article was updated on Aug. 5 to add the information about the HRC vacancy.

Comments are closed.