East Lansing City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve a site plan and Special Use Permit (SUP) application for 128 Collingwood Drive to establish a fraternity in an existing 13-unit apartment building that in the past was also used as a frat. The lone dissenting vote was Council Member Lisa Babcock.
Babcock opposed the approval of the SUP and site plan on the grounds that this apartment building had been modified and effectively used as a fraternity for an entire school year without the required review, inspections, and approvals. She said that the City needs to be more active in zoning enforcement and not just obtain compliance after violations are discovered — basically what the Council did by approving this SUP and site plan.
Mayor Aaron Stephens said he thought a better approach is, “as crappy as it sounds, forgiveness and compliance.” He suggested perhaps engaging MSU in more off-campus student housing issues. ELi is expecting to bring a separate report on that debate and vote later this week.
What else did Council do? (See the full agenda here.)
Council amended the Fiscal Year 2021 budget for the final time.
Also on June 22, Council unanimously approved a $5,992,810 amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, which will end on June 30. Of that nearly six million dollars, $2.7 million is being paid into the City pension fund from the Income Tax Fund, bringing the total supplemental payment to the pensions for Fiscal Year 2021 to about $7 million.
Stephens had previously indicated Council would be receiving a presentation on the pension issues in June, but that didn’t happen. Their next meeting will be July 13.
The City will start shutting off people’s water in July for delinquencies.
During discussion of the budget amendment, Council member Ron Bacon asked Finance Director Jill Feldpausch for an update on delinquent water payments. Feldpausch had told Council at the end of April that around one thousand City water customers were behind on their bills.
On Tuesday, Feldpausch answered Bacon’s question by saying that some progress has been made in making up the delinquent payments. The City is also continuing to be lenient with people trying to catch up on payments by allowing for longer payment plan periods and increasing the time between “tagging” doors for nonpayment — literally placing a physical tag on people’s doors to indicate delinquent payments — and shutting off water.
But the City will start turning off people’s water for delinquency in July. Babcock said that anyone who needs financial assistance to keep their water flowing should contact the City or any member of Council to be connected with help.
Two unanimous votes approved future CDBG plans and a land split on Arbor Glen Drive, respectively.
Through another unanimous vote, Council approved the 2021-2025 Community Development Block Grant Consolidated Plan, which will now be sent to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The “Executive Summary” included with Tuesday’s agenda (Item 4.2) estimates the City will get around $2.4 million from the CDBG program during the period from 2021-25.
You can read the consolidated plan here.
Council also unanimously voted to split a quarter-of-an-acre from an approximately 12.3-acre parcel at 295 Arbor Glen Dr. The parcel will be deeded to the Remy Chandler Intercounty Drain Drainage District because it is in a floodway, and a HUD requirement for refinancing the property is that no parts of it be in a floodway, according to Bethany McMillan, general counsel for DTN, the owners of the property.
Quarterly litigation status reports are going to start happening again.
This was announced by Laura Genovich, an attorney from Foster Swift who serves as one of the City’s attorneys and who filled in for Mike Homier on Tuesday. Genovich said the next quarterly litigation report will be provided at Council’s July 13 meeting, with reports to follow in October, January, and April.
Under a previous City Council for which Tom Yeadon served as the City Attorney, ELi successfully fought to obtain access to the litigation status reports being given to Council. The current City Attorney hasn’t been providing any written litigation status reports, so we have had no opportunity to obtain them. What the public will get to see of the new reports remains to be seen.
Council also unanimously approved the consent agenda.
Three days after the new federal holiday, the City of East Lansing approved a resolution recognizing Juneteenth — celebrating the liberation of the last enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865 — as the first item on the consent agenda.
With unanimous approval of the consent agenda, Council also:
- “tentatively” awarded a $30,861,000 contract to Granger Construction for clarifier and aeration improvements at the wastewater treatment facility. According to the agenda item attachment, these improvements will be funded by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Fiscal Year 2021 state revolving loan funds.
- extended the shutdown of Albert Ave. between M.A.C. Ave. and Abbot Rd. to last until August 15. This is where the “Albert EL Fresco” placemaking project has been put in motion. The Albert parking garage remains accessible from Abbot Rd.
- awarded a contract to Gordon Construction Services for a new HVAC and electrical panels and the East Lansing Public Library. The contract is for $743,425 and includes a 15% contingency ($111,514); the money is coming from the library’s saved funds.
- awarded a $522,186 contract to Michigan Paving and Materials Co. to resurface portions of seven residential streets: Charles St., Division St., Blanchette Dr., Gainsborough Dr., Maplewood Dr., Oakland Dr., and Roseland Ave. See what portions are being resurfaced here.
- awarded a contract to Brock and Associates, Inc. for $364,000 to install two pedestrian bridges that will connect the Bessemaur and Tamarisk neighborhoods to the North Tier Trail.
- extended a contract with Granger Waste Services to haul and dispose of wastewater “residuals.” The extension runs through June 2026 and will increase the rate Granger is paid by 10% for the first year of the extension, and then increase the rate by 3% for each following year. Granger charges $26.75 per ton of this waste removed, currently, and that rate will rise to $29.43 per ton in the first year of the new contract extension.
- introduced three proposed ordinances and placed them on the business agenda for the July 13 meeting of City Council. Those proposed ordinances if passed would, respectively, create an Independent Community Police Oversight Commission; allow for residential fireworks on Juneteenth all day through 1 a.m. on June 20; and change the City’s disorderly conduct code to require the City Attorney to “review the seriousness of the charges, the underlying behavior of the people involved in the encounter and arrest, and the alternative approaches available to the Police Department during the encounter,” and that they do not pursue charges if they don’t further “the interests of justice and fairness.”
- Approved a $21,396 purchase of a piece of road repair equipment from Bobcat of Lansing.
- And set a public hearing for July 13 about the construction of a new Michigan State Federal Credit Union branch at 3775 Coolidge Road.