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East Lansing City Council Meeting Recap 4/19/22

** Thanks for reading!
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Thanks for checking out the East Lansing City Council Recap. This publication is sent out after each regular, discussion-only and special City Council meeting. Plan for future meetings by viewing the 2022 meeting schedule here: https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/997/2022-Meeting-Dates. (https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/997/2022-Meeting-Dates)

Readers are encouraged to contact the East Lansing City Manager's Office with questions: (517) 319-6920
A screenshot from the April 19, 2022 meeting of City Council and audience members.


** Highlights from the April 19 Meeting
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Prior to this past Tuesday's East Lansing City Council meeting, City Council held a budget work session at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center to discuss the Preliminary Fiscal Year 2023 Budget, focusing primarily on the Community Development Block Grant fund, Capital Improvement Fund, the overall Capital Improvement Project Plan and parking fund. Community members can listen to the work session at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rx91AFcrsTw.

Following the work session, Council met for its Tuesday, April 19 regular meeting. During communications from Councilmembers, Councilmember Lisa Babcock reminded community members that no-fee curbside yard waste collection will be offered on the City's west side (homes west of Abbot Road) on Monday, April 25. Community members can learn more about the City's no-fee curbside yard waste collection at www.cityofeastlansing.com/yardwaste. (https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/347/Yard-Waste-Collection?fbclid=IwAR1D4nxVMhiln6A5Mc2X8II8Mpp69eVGx9EFgkvAXmkdM4H9EJLJSijuQ0s)

Also during her report, Councilmember Babcock encouraged community members to participate in the East Lansing Public Library's Books, Baskets & Bids online fundraiser. The auction is currently underway and will close at noon on Monday, April 25. All proceeds raised will go towards purchasing various tools that will enhance programming for all age levels, including a Tovertafel Table. Community members can learn more about Book, Baskets & Bids here. (https://cityofeastlansing.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1655)

Mayor Ron Bacon took time during his opening remarks to recognize several resolutions placed on the consent agenda for Council's approval, including the following:
* A resolution recognizing April 24, 2022 as Remembrance Day of the Genocide of the Armenians.
* A resolution proclaiming April 29, 2022 as Arbor Day in the City of East Lansing.
* A resolution acknowledging the month Ramadan.

He also announced that he has partnered with Lansing Mayor Andy Schor to host the 2022 Mayors' Ramadan Unity Dinner on Friday, May 20 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Lansing Center, 333 E. Michigan Ave. Community members are invited to be a part of this special event, which serves to celebrate diversity in the region and help bring awareness to the plight of those who go hungry. Community members can learn more about the 2022 Mayors' Ramadan Unity Dinner here. (https://www.facebook.com/events/685232182796992/?ref=newsfeed)

Mayor Bacon continued his opening remarks by announcing that the East Lansing Family Aquatic Center (ELFAC) will be participating in a business fair at Okemos High School, 2800 Jolly Road, on Thursday, April 28 at 2:30 p.m. The ELFAC will have job applications and information available for students who are interested in applying or learning more about its open positions. Community members can learn more and apply for open positions at the ELFAC at www.cityofeastlansing.com/jobs (https://cityofeastlansing.us17.list-manage.com/track/click?u=d99498ce3806962a5ede26662&id=9508f04bd9&e=9a3d08572a) .

During the city manager's report, East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas introduced the City's new Humphrey Fellow, Uzma Ali. Ali is from Pakistan, where she is a mid-career professional in the area of human resources.


** Public Hearing - CDBG Fiscal Year 2023 Budget
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Council held the first of two public hearings for the Fiscal Year 2023 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) budget.

The CDBG FY 2023 Budget recommendations include funding towards public services, public infrastructure programs and CDBG planning and administration. The public service programs recommended to receive funding in FY 2023 include the East Lansing Department of Parks, Recreation and Arts' (ELPRA) Youth Scholarship Program, Haven House, Tri-County Office on Aging and EVE, Inc. The public infrastructure programs that are recommended to receive funding in FY 2023 include the Capital Area Housing Partnership's Home Ownership Assistance Program and Homeowner Rehabilitation Program, the East Lansing Department of Public Works' CDBG Sidewalk Project and ELPRA's Stoddard Park Improvement Project.

During communications at the start of the meeting and during the public hearing, Council heard from representatives from Haven House, Tri-County Office on Aging and EVE, Inc. The representatives provided an explanation of the services their organizations provide and expressed gratitude that their organizations are included in the proposed CDBG budget to receive funding.

Council will hold a second public hearing on the FY 2023 CDBG budget on May 10 and will consider approving the budget on May 24. View the agenda item report for the FY 2023 CDBG Budget. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76242/Consideration%20of%20the%20City%20of%20East%20Lansing_s%20Com.pdf?handle=7431EE5CEB9F4D2CB482182DB69781CA)


** Request from ATESTEO North America
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Council discussed a request from ATESTEO North America (ATESTEO) (https://www.atesteo.com/en/) seeking personal and real property tax abatements from the City to assist in its creation of a North American headquarters. East Lansing Community and Economic Development Administrator Adam Cummins and representatives from the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) were present to provide background and answer Council's questions.

LEAP Chief Operating Officer Keith Lambert explained that ATESTEO is a global leader in drivetrain testing operations, with more than 750 employees globally across 160 test benches. ATESTEO is headquartered in Germany, but its goal is to expand into the North American market to serve existing and future customers. To assist with its goal of expanding into North America, ATESTEO engaged with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and LEAP for real estate site selection and site support. Lambert noted that representatives from ATESTEO visited the Lansing region last December and they were able to show them everything Michigan has to offer.

LEAP Tri-County Development & Placemaking Manager Dillon Rush went on to explain that ATESTEO is considering East Lansing because of the proximity and partnerships with Michigan State University and Lansing Community College. Additionally, East Lansing's central location in Michigan provides good proximity to automotive development centers and future potential customers.

Rush provided an overview of the proposed project, explaining that it would consist of a long-term lease at the 35,000-square-foot building located at 3400 West Road. The project would result in the addition of 46 new jobs within its initial three years of operations, with the positions being primarily engineers, technicians, mechanics and electricians.

Rush also explained that ATESTEO is requesting a State of Michigan Public Act (PA) 198 industrial facilities tax exemption, which would reduce real property taxes on new investments by 50 percent for 10 years. ATESTEO is also requesting a PA 328 personal property tax exemption, which would waive personal property taxes for 10 years if they are not already considered exempt by existing state law. He noted in his presentation that both PA 198 and PA 328 are routinely used by cities to attract companies.

Additionally, Rush noted that the City would expect an increase in income taxes from employees working onsite at the building and 50 percent of the new real property tax revenue as a result of the project investment.

During discussion, Council asked Lambert and Rush several questions, including questions about financial support from local partners, traffic and noise at the facility and more. Community members can watch Lambert and Rush's presentation and Council's discussion here. (https://youtu.be/Gy2p_UBMyUQ?t=1937)

Council's next steps will be setting public hearings during the May 10 meeting for May 24 to consider the creation of an Industrial Development District and to consider ATESTEO's exemption applications. View the agenda item report for the discussion on the request from ATESTEO North America. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76544/Discussion%20of%20a%20request%20from%20ATESTEO%20North%20Amer.pdf?handle=811DEE7CB5894C3BBC3B602894C8A6E6)


** Letter of Intent from Convexity Properties, LLC
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Council considered a non-binding letter of intent from Convexity Properties, LLC (Convexity) regarding the transfer of its property at 341 Evergreen Ave to the City.

Council initially discussed the letter of intent from Convexity during the April 12 discussion-only meeting, where East Lansing Planning, Building and Development Director Tom Fehrenbach provided an overview of the letter and background information on 341 Evergreen Ave. Community members can learn more about Convexity's letter of intent by reading the City Council Meeting Recap for the April 12 meeting. (https://us17.campaign-archive.com/?u=d99498ce3806962a5ede26662&id=c1eac0cf10)

During last night's discussion, Councilmember George Brookover expressed that he did not feel comfortable approving the letter of intent without the property being appraised. Additionally, Councilmember Babcock voiced concerns about the property and if it would still be developed for low- to moderate-income housing if the City approved the letter of intent and it became available for redevelopment. Several Councilmembers also asked questions about Brownfield Plan #11, which Fehrenbach was available to answer.

In a vote of 3-2 (Councilmember Babcock and Councilmember Brookover voting against), Council approved the non-binding letter of intent from Convexity regarding the transfer of 341 Evergreen Ave. Staff will work on next steps to draft updates to the Brownfield Plan, Development Agreement and related documents for consideration by the Council in the future. View the agenda item report for the non-binding letter of intent from Convexity regarding the transfer of 341 Evergreen Ave. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76281/Consideration%20of%20a%20non-binding%20Letter%20of%20Intent.pdf?handle=4579006844DB40ED8FEB439C12561B0F)


** Discussion of City's Ordinance Regarding Parking Ticket Fines
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Next, Council discussed the City's ordinance regarding parking ticket fines.

City Manager Lahanas began his presentation by providing an overview of the City's current parking fines. He explained that the City's parking meter fines are $20 and are discounted to $10 if paid by the next business day. In comparison, the City's parking structures have a $15 daily maximum and the Bailey Street Parking Lot (Lot 11) has a $20 daily maximum.

Furthermore, City Manager Lahanas explained that the parking meter fines are not sufficient to encourage motorist to park in the City's parking structures. Due to this, staff are proposing to increase the parking meter fines to $30 and discounted to $20 if paid by the next business day.

He explained that staff believe this would eliminate the financial incentive to incur a parking meter violation and would encourage daily parking in the structures. As a result, this would keep on-street parking spaces available for transient parking purposes, such as patrons visiting downtown businesses.

City Manager Lahanas also noted that, if you receive a paper ticket and want to take advantage of the discounted rate, the quickest option is to pay by cash or check and place your payment in one of the City's 24-hour drop boxes. (https://cityofeastlansing.com/714/24-Hour-Drop-Boxes)

Council's next steps will be to introduce the proposed ordinance change and place it on a future agenda for Council's consideration. View the agenda item report for the discussion on the City's ordinance regarding parking ticket fees. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76229/Discussion%20of%20the%20City_s%20ordinance%20regarding%20pa.pdf?handle=2FA58359A0604CB9AAE435436581FD9E)


** Rental License Applications
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Councilmember Brookover made a motion to move two initial rental license applications from the consent agenda to the business agenda in order to discuss the applications further (items 3.8 and 3.9 on the consent agenda).

During discussion, Councilmember Brookover voiced a number of concerns regarding the impact the rental properties would have on the neighborhoods, including traffic congestion and on-street parking demands. Additionally, he expressed that, due to staffing shortages, he is concerned that the City is not able to serve the rental houses adequately.

In a vote of 3-2 (Councilmember Brookover and Councilmember Babcock voting against), Council approved an initial rental license application for 331 Lexington Ave. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76020/Approve%20an%20initial%20rental%20license%20application%20f.pdf?handle=CA9541A936F84171A65C76F6EDDBBE28) and 755 Berkshire Lane. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76254/Approve%20an%20initial%20rental%20license%20application%20f.pdf?handle=F1E0B7E98DAA4C62A73FD8C7938B76CC)


** Other Items
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* Council approved a resolution celebrating Public Service Recognition Week. View the agenda item report for the resolution celebrating Public Service Recognition Week. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76495/Approve%20a%20resolution%20celebrating%20Public%20Service.pdf?handle=B9D2266A5BDD428A8BA35FC98AB04E33)
* Council approved a resolution recognizing April 24, 2022 as Remembrance Day of the Genocide of the Armenians. View the agenda item report recognizing April 24, 2022 as Remembrance Day of the Genocide of the Armenians. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76388/Approve%20a%20resolution%20recognizing%20April%2024,%202022.pdf?handle=69B58D115D314A73B35A7471B4BD6A8F)
* Council approved a resolution proclaiming April 29, 2022 as Arbor Day in the City of East Lansing. View the agenda item report for the resolution proclaiming April 29, 2022 as Arbor Day in the City of East Lansing. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76512/Approve%20a%20resolution%20proclaiming%20April%2029,%202022.pdf?handle=68D96EEF5BE94A6BA8500D5F3446F672)
* Council approved a resolution acknowledging the month Ramadan. View the agenda item report for the resolution acknowledging the month of Ramadan. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76584/Approve%20a%20Resolution%20acknowledging%20the%20month%20of.pdf?handle=FAD1E27B0EF34ACE99F42E2C97A422D2)
* Council approved Policy Resolution 2022-6, a resolution to update the City Loft Policy regarding loft-type beds in dwelling units. View the agenda item report for Policy Resolution 2022-6. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76224/Approve%20Policy%20Resolution%202022-6,%20a%20resolution%20.pdf?handle=F4DE8C7C23964039B159843A716B38F7)
* Council approved Policy Resolution 2022-7, a resolution supporting legal counsel's recommendations in the Heos v. City of East Lansing case. View the agenda item report for Policy Resolution 2022-7. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76286/Consideration%20of%20Policy%20Resolution%202022-7,%20a%20re.pdf?handle=84FFFF4B00A9454483FE8A8325622CF9)
* Councilmember Brookover made a motion to move a letter supporting the reduction of Consumers Energy's carbon and greenhouse gas emissions from the consent agenda to the business agenda in order to discuss it further. Following Council discussion, it was approved by Council with a vote of 4-1. View the agenda item report for the letter supporting the reduction of Consumers Energy's carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76033/Approve%20a%20letter%20supporting%20the%20reduction%20of%20Co.pdf?handle=50687285FB4F4C5793C5FA326808533B)

To learn more about all items discussed during the meeting, view the Agenda Packet. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Org=Cal&Id=738)
Next Meeting: Tuesday, May 10

Budget Work Session &
Regular Meeting


** Additional Information
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The City of East Lansing has transitioned back to in-person public meetings and East Lansing City Council meetings have been temporarily relocated to the East Lansing Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Road. Budget work sessions take place at 5 p.m. and regular and discussion-only Council meetings take place at 7 p.m. A remote option for viewing the meetings and providing public comment is continuing to be offered for City Council and Planning Commission meetings via the City's public meeting portal (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/Portal/) . The number to call in for public comment is posted at the top of each meeting agenda.

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