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East Lansing City Council Meeting Recap 5/24/22

** 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
From left: East Lansing 54B District Court Judge Molly Hennessey Greenwalt, East Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon, East Lansing 54B District Court Chief Judge Richard Ball, East Lansing 54B District Court Administrator Nicole Evans and former municipal judge Jonathan Maire.


** Highlights from the May 24 Meeting
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The East Lansing City Council met this past Tuesday, May 24 at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center for its regular meeting.

During communications from Councilmembers, East Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon and East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg took time during their reports to acknowledge the recent mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and the victims who lost their lives.

Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg encouraged community members who are interested in combating gun violence to get involved with Moms Demand Action (https://momsdemandaction.org/) or Everytown (https://www.everytown.org/) , which are two organizations that are doing advocacy work at the state and federal level to end gun violence. "If you, like me, are feeling very devastated and hopeless, hopefully you can find someone working in your area to put some meaningful actions behind those feelings," said Mayor Pro Tem Gregg.

Listen to the full comments from Mayor Bacon and Mayor Pro Tem Gregg here (https://youtu.be/VjwwqsrXKqs?t=4073) .

Mayor Bacon also took time during his report to send his condolences to the community of Gaylord, Mich., who was impacted by a tornado last Friday that caused significant damage to the town. He continued his remarks by sending well wishes to East Lansing High School's graduating seniors. "Those of you who are going far and wide, carry East Lansing with you and be a representative of everything that's great about us," said Mayor Bacon.

Mayor Bacon also thanked everyone who attended the 59th Annual East Lansing Art Festival, which took place over the weekend. "It was well appreciated, well attended and getting to see people out in that setting was very moving," said Mayor Bacon.

Additionally, Mayor Bacon, Mayor Pro Tem Gregg and East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas took time to recognize and thank East Lansing Finance Director Jill Feldpausch for her service and hard work, as she will be pursuing a new job opportunity after 16 years of dedicated service with the City.

"A big thanks and appreciation to Jill for all of her work for the past 16 years," said City Manager Lahanas. "She's done a great job for the City."


** Special Presentation
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At this past Tuesday's meeting, Council held a special presentation and approved a resolution honoring the life and legacy of the Honorable Maurice E. Schoenberger, who was the first judge of the East Lansing 54B District Court. Community members can read Schoenberger's obituary here. (https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/lansing-mi/maurice-schoenberger-10753817)

During the special presentation, East Lansing 54B District Court Judge Richard Ball read the resolution aloud and East Lansing 54B District Court Administrator Nicole Evans and former municipal judge Jonathan Maire made remarks, speaking about Schoenberger's contributions to the 54B District Court. The full special presentation can be viewed here. (https://youtu.be/VjwwqsrXKqs?t=4658)

View the agenda item report for the special presentation and resolution honoring the life and legacy of the Honorable Maurice E. Schoenberger. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78515/Special%20presentation%20and%20consideration%20of%20a%20res.pdf?handle=319790659BFB4DF2B83D53606284154D)


** Public Hearings for ATESTEO North America, Inc.
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Council held three public hearings to consider requests from ATESTEO North America, Inc. (ATESTEO) for the property located at 3400 West Road.

ATESTEO is a global leader in drivetrain testing operations and is headquartered in Germany, but its goal is to expand into the North American market to serve existing and future customers. The company is considering East Lansing for its first facility in the U.S, which would would serve as a testing center and its North American headquarters.

ATESTEO is proposing a project to establish the facility at the 35,000-square-foot building located at 3400 West Road. The company expects the project to require approximately $700,000 of real property improvements over three years, in addition to more than $26 million in personal property investment over the first five years. The project would also result in the addition of 46 new jobs within its initial three years of operations.

To assist with the creation of this facility, ATESTEO requested personal and real property tax abatements from the City as well as the creation of an Industrial Development District (IDD). During this past Tuesday's meeting, Council held public hearings and took action on these requests. An overview of each request and how Council voted is provided below:

Request: Approve a resolution to establish an IDD per Public Act (P.A.) 198, as amended, at 3400 West Road.
Council's vote: 4-1 (Councilmember Lisa Babcock voting against)
View the agenda item report for the resolution to establish an IDD at 3400 West Road. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78665/Consideration%20of%20a%20resolution%20to%20establish%20an%20I.pdf?handle=5D8E9DF0AE85483A8848852B74B95DF3)

Request: Approve a resolution approving a real property tax exemption request and related agreement, pursuant to P.A. 198, as amended, at 3400 West Road.
Council's Vote: 4-1 (Councilmember Babcock voting against)
View the agenda item report for the resolution approving a real property tax exemption request and related agreement at 3400 West Road. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78667/Consideration%20of%20a%20resolution%20approving%20a%20real%20.pdf?handle=37535F0434084A10AC9AAB1E9493B591)

Request: Approve a resolution approving a new personal property tax exemption application and related agreement, pursuant to P.A. 328, as amended, at 3400 West Road.
Council's Vote: 4-1 (Councilmember Babcock voting against)
View the agenda item report for the resolution approving a new personal property tax exemption application at 3400 West Road. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78735/Consideration%20of%20a%20resolution%20approving%20a%20new%20p.pdf?handle=5220D2964FD64D45876048F41134BDE4)

Community members can learn more about ATESTEO and its proposed project at the following link: https://www.cityofeastlansing.com/2291/ATESTEO-North-America-Inc.


** Public Hearing - TIF Plan for the Local Development Finance Authority
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Council held a public hearing and unanimously approved a resolution to approve the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Plan for the Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA) for the cities of Lansing and East Lansing. Council also unanimously approved the operating agreement regarding the operation of the LDFA for the cities of Lansing and East Lansing.

A separate interlocal agreement between the cities of Lansing and East Lansing, LDFA and Michigan Economic Development Corporation is under development and is expected to be added to a future agenda to be considered by Council in June.

View the agenda item report for the resolution to approve the TIF plan for the LDFA for the cities of Lansing and East Lansing. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78657/Consideration%20of%20a%20resolution%20to%20approve%20the%20Ta.pdf?handle=4DCFDB01FF1B46C7B5A5DA0B7B19B710)


** Fiscal Year 2023 Budget, Tax Rate and Fee Schedule Resolution
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Council considered the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget, Tax Rate and Fee Schedule resolution during this past Tuesday's meeting. Prior to this consideration, Council reviewed and discussed the preliminary budget over the course of five budget work sessions and a public hearing during the May 10 Council meeting.

Finance Director Jill Feldpausch explained that the resolution includes one change from the preliminary budget document, relating to the fee schedule. Specifically, under Fire-Medical Transport Ambulance Fees, the Inter/Intrafacility/Hospital charge was lowered from $1,500 to $500.

During discussion, Mayor Bacon proposed an amendment to the general fund fee schedule. His proposed amendment increased the contract services budget by $75,000 for additional diversity, equity and inclusion contract services, bringing the total budget for contract services to $150,000. Following discussion, Council unanimously approved the proposed amendment.

Additionally, Councilmember Dana Watson proposed several amendments to the fee schedule for the Parks, Recreation and Arts Fund. Her amendments included reducing the cost of non-resident passes to the East Lansing Family Aquatic Center and reducing the Summer Kids Camp fee for residents and non-residents. Following discussion, Council unanimously approved the proposed amendments. Community members can watch Council propose and vote on the amendments here (https://youtu.be/VjwwqsrXKqs?t=10933) .

Prior to voting on the amended budget, City Manager Lahanas thanked finance staff for their hard work to put together the FY 2023 Budget, Tax Rate and Fee Schedule. He also thanked department directors and other leadership staff for putting together their budget submissions and thanked the Council for their time and work on the budget.

Finance Director Feldpausch also took time to thank Council for their kind words and well wishes. "I've enjoyed my time working here and I know you guys are in good hands. I have a very good finance team and they will continue to do wonderful things, and the same thing for every single City employee. I would say every employee does their best to serve the community and that's the one thing I will miss about the City is the people," said Finance Director Feldpausch.

Council then unanimously approved the FY 2023 Budget, Tax Rate and Fee Schedule resolution as amended. View the agenda item report for the FY 2023 Budget, Tax Rate and Fee Schedule. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76277/Consideration%20of%20the%20FY2023%20Budget,%20Tax%20Rate,%20a.pdf?handle=85BF488052AB470BA8441C0A9DB4AA40)


** Fiscal Year 2023 Community Development Block Grant Budget
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Council considered the Fiscal Year 2023 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) budget.

Community Development Specialist Matt Apostle indicated that the City received its official FY 2023 CDBG entitlement amount on May 18. The total entitlement amount is $485,069, which is $16,146 less than FY 2022. Due to this, staff went through the budget and decreased all the budget items proportionally, with some exceptions.

The exceptions include facility rental costs and some of the administrative costs under the Capital Area Housing Partnership. Apostle noted that these budget items couldn't be decreased because they are fixed expenses.

Following discussion, Council unanimously approved the FY 2023 CDBG budget. View the agenda item report for the FY 2023 CDBG budget (the approved budget is highlighted in yellow). (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78645/Consideration%20of%20the%20FY%202023%20Community%20Developm.pdf?handle=2F378F709E4B4E3B8B5706C26CD9E64C)


** Ordinance No. 1514
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Council considered Ordinance No. 1514, an ordinance to amend Section 44-372 of the City Code regarding the Parking Bureau Schedule of Fines.

City Manager Lahanas previously presented the proposed ordinance during Council's April 19 meeting, where he explained that the City's parking meter fines are not sufficient to encourage motorists to not park at the meters all day, but instead park in the City's parking structures. Due to this, staff requested that Council consider Ordinance No. 1514, which updates the City Code and increases parking meter fines by $10. Community members can learn more about Lahanas' presentation by reading the City Council Meeting Recap from the April 19, 2022 meeting. (https://us17.campaign-archive.com/?u=d99498ce3806962a5ede26662&id=482d004db2)

In a vote of 4-1 (Councilmember Watson voting against), Council approved Ordinance No. 1514. The new parking meter fine will be $30 and will be discounted to $20 if paid by the next business day. View the agenda item report for Ordinance No. 1514. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/76896/Consideration%20of%20Ordinance%20No.%201514,%20an%20ordinan.pdf?handle=82909530D71B4770955097F05735C0D9)


** Discussion and Consideration of a Letter of Support for Grant Proposal
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Council discussed the development of a grant proposal for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Rehabilitation and Placemaking Program (RAP) and consideration of a letter of support.

East Lansing Parks, Recreation and Arts (ELPRA) Director Cathy DeShambo explained that RAP is a grant opportunity for placemaking infrastructure and allows for matching grants of up to $1 million per project for public space improvements. The grant, a collaborative effort between ELPRA, the East Lansing Department of Public Works and the East Department of Planning, Building and Development, would fund improvements to the East Lansing Farmers Market (ELFM) in Valley Court Park and placemaking opportunities.

Council previously discussed the grant opportunity during its January 25, 2022 meeting and, since that time, staff have been working with its design professional partners to incorporate as many concepts discussed during that meeting into the first phase of redevelopment of Valley Court Park and surrounding areas. Staff are also developing potential funding sources if the City were to receive the grant.

At the meeting, staff requested that Council authorize the city manager to execute a letter of support for the project to include with the grant proposal. DeShambo noted that staff have already secured a letter of support from the East Lansing Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission and the East Lansing Downtown Development Authority will discuss and consider a letter of support during its next meeting.

DeShambo went on to present a tentative rendering of the potential redevelopment of Valley Court Park and the ELFM. The rendering includes a pavilion with 24 covered spaces for the ELFM, a new playground and café programming plaza. She also noted that the pavilion wouldn't be limited to use by the ELFM, but could be used for other programming and events. Community members can view the rendering in the agenda item report. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78539/Discussion%20of%20developing%20a%20grant%20proposal%20for%20t.pdf?handle=D81448EA507C48799EF80C2A2296A1B1)

During discussion, Councilmember George Brookover voiced concerns about the project impeding on the green space in Valley Court Park.

In a vote of 4-1 (Councilmember Brookover voting against), Council approved a letter of support for the MEDC RAP grant submittal.


** Consideration of a Resolution Regarding Entheogenic Plants
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Council considered a resolution regarding decriminalizing entheogenic plants (also known as psychedelics) in East Lansing. During communications from the audience, Council heard from several community members who spoke in favor of the resolution.

East Lansing City Attorney Tony Chubb expressed his concerns about the proposed resolution and the potential legal consequences the City could endure if approved. He explained that the proposed resolution doesn't legalize psychedelics because that would be violation of state and federal law. Instead, the proposed resolution would decriminalizes psychedelics, which would direct the East Lansing Police Department to selectively enforce state and federal law.

During discussion, Mayor Pro Tem Gregg and Councilmember Watson spoke in favor of the resolution and acknowledged the advocates who brought this issue to Council's attention.

"What we're really doing is sending a message and we're creating one more link in the chain for our advocates, who have spoken so eloquently to us, to approach the state about legalization," said Mayor Pro Tem Gregg.

Mayor Bacon and Councilmember Babcock also thanked the advocates for the work they're doing, but because of the potential legal challenges this could create for the City, they didn't feel comfortable approving the resolution.

"My concern is the gray legal jeopardy that it creates," said Mayor Bacon.

In a vote of 2-3 (Mayor Bacon, Councilmember Babcock and Councilmember Brookover voting against), the motion to approve the resolution failed. View the agenda item report for the resolution regarding decriminalizing entheogenic plants in East Lansing. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/77711/Consideration%20of%20a%20resolution%20regarding%20entheog.pdf?handle=D2372B5D1CCE40AE9A14557F044E5450)


** Other Items
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* Council approved a resolution acknowledging June 2022 as Men's Health Month. View the agenda item report for the resolution acknowledging June 2022 as Men's Health Month (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78510/Approve%20a%20resolution%20acknowledging%20June%202022%20as.pdf?handle=BC7E762E6D384DF3B8C01F047D2A6DC8) .
* Council approved a resolution acknowledging 50 years of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Delta Lambda Chapter. View the agenda item report for the resolution acknowledging 50 years of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Kappa Delta Lambda Chapter. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78864/Approve%20a%20resolution%20acknowledging%20fifty%20years%20.pdf?handle=3242CD26DAC044C99025F35F550CB113)
* Council approved a public right-of-way request for the "Moonlight ExtravaGRANDza: A Night to Eat, Shop and Explore YOUR New Downtown" event on August 29, 2022. View the agenda item report for the public right-of-way request for August 29, 2022. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78351/Approve%20a%20use%20of%20public%20right%20of%20way%20request%20fo.pdf?handle=7F674721CB9D4D79862A41BB001ABCA1)
* Council approved an agreement with MFCI, LLC to provide financial advisory services for the City, as needed. View the agenda item report for the agreement with MFCI, LLC. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78595/Approve%20an%20agreement%20with%20MFCI,%20LLC%20to%20provide%20.pdf?handle=07CA7EF6B779408780C7393B6CEB213F)
* Council approved an agreement with Dickinson Wright, PLLC to serve as bond counsel for the City, as needed. View the agenda item report for the agreement with Dickinson Wright, PLLC. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/document/78597/Approve%20an%20agreement%20with%20Dickinson%20Wright%20PLLC.pdf?handle=E7AF417054974CF58DD0CBC5CBFDCBBC)

To learn more about all items discussed during the meeting, view the Agenda Packet. (https://cityofeastlansing.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Org=Cal&Id=740)
Next Meeting: Tuesday, June 7
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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