For this week’s meeting of the East Lansing City Council (September 27, 2016), Councilmembers Shanna Draheim and Erik Altmann were present along with Mayor Mark Meadows. Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier and Councilmember Susan Woods were absent, as was City Manager George Lahanas. Planning Director Tim Dempsey served as Acting City Manager in Lahanas’s stead. The meeting was short, lasting less than a half-hour.
New regulations on entertainment licenses: Following attempts by the owner of the Tin Can, a downtown bar, to get an entertainment license to host games, a public hearing was held at this meeting in consideration of Ordinance 1390. Under the previously-existing legislative language, City Attorney Tom Yeadon explained to Council, businesses were not restricted by the Code to only the types of entertainment for which they had requested a license. Once granted an entertainment license, an establishment could conduct any kind of entertainment the owners wished.
Council voted 3-0 to change the language of the law such that now businesses can only host entertainment of the types specifically approved. Tin Can’s most recent application for an entertainment license calls for allowing the establishment to host games “euchre tournament[s], art contest[s], DJ hosted trivia.” That license has not yet been approved. (For more on the history of Tin Can, see this, this and this.)
Indigenous People’s Day resolution passed: Council approved a resolution put forward by East Lansing’s Human Relations Commission to replace Columbus Day celebrations in East Lansing with celebrations of Indigenous People’s Day. We will have a separate report on this.
Approval of parks fees: A new schedule of fees for residents and non-residents using the city Parks and Recreation facilities was approved. Most programs charge non-residents more, but after objections were raised by leaders of All-of-us Express Children’s Theatre, Council voted to keep the rates for non-resident and resident children who participate in the theatre program at the same level.
Deer management: Elinore Holbrook, a resident who lives in the northern Bailey neighborhood near Marble Elementary School, came to Council to raise the issue of the number of deer now inhabiting that part of the City. Reading aloud a letter from her neighbor, a gardener who is having trouble keeping the deer away from her plants, Holbrook noted the public health and traffic safety risks posed by deer, and asked for the City to gather more information about the problem.
Mayor Meadows asked for the City to relay data collected by the city in 2015-2016 about the City’s deer population to Holbrook. In March, a survey of city residents about the deer problem was posted on the City’s website. Council has previously discussed the possibility of using authorized hunters to reduce the number of deer in the City, but that plan has not moved forward.
Toastmasters International recognized: The non-profit group Toastmasters International was recognized with a celebratory resolution for their contributions to the community. The Toastmasters International group has three clubs in the local area (all on MSU’s campus) and teaches communication skills via public speaking opportunities. Carol Prahinski, who is a local leader of Toastmasters, spoke during public comments in favor of the resolution.
CATA to hold community forums on BRT: Councilmember Draheim noted that CATA will be holding an informational session on the Bus Rapid Transit plans on Monday, October 3, at the Hannah Community Center. (See details.)
Library to re-open: Mayor Meadows announced that the East Lansing Public Library will have its grand re-opening this Saturday, October 1. (See details.)
East Lansing to Welcome the World: Meadows also noted that the annual “East Lansing Welcomes the World” event will be this Sunday, October 2. (See details.)
Local business recognized: Lansing Ophthalmology was recognized with a resolution celebrating fifty years in business.
Union settlement reached: Council approved a settlement agreement between the City and the Independent Employees Union. The text of the tentative settlement agreement can be found here.
Northern Tier planning and zoning: A public hearing addressing Ordinance 1376, which would allow “low intensity recreational use” with a special use permit in the B4 district northwest of the Hawk’s Nest neighborhood near Coolidge and State Roads, is scheduled for October 25th. According to the staff report, this has come up because a company wants to open an “Escape Room” entertainment business in the area. Last month, East Lansing’s Planning Commission voted unanimously against recommending this ordinance. (Planning Commission is advisory to Council.)
“Big box store” tax issue referred to Planning: We previously reported that at its September 13 meeting, “Council set a public hearing for October 11 regarding Ordinance 1386. The zoning ordinance would prohibit ‘land use restrictions’ enacted in deeds for so-called ‘big box stores’ that keep competitors from occupying the same building when a like-store closes and moves out. City Attorney Yeadon’s memo describes the negative effects on property values and economic development that result in such currently-enforced deed restrictions.” Last night Council voted to cancel that public hearing because the matter has to first be referred to Planning Commission.
Shed regulation in business districts: Ordinance 1391, which if passed would regulate the use of sheds in the B2 and B3 business districts, was introduced and referred to the Planning Commission for review.
Pavement definitions refined: Ordinance 1392, which would amend the zoning code to add definitions “relating to pavement expansion, maintenance, and reconstruction” was introduced and referred to the Planning Commission for review.
Public hearing on marijuana regulation: Council voted to set a public hearing for October 11 regarding the decriminalization of marijuana use and possession under the City Charter. See our separate report on this issue.
Appointments: Julia Porter was appointed to the University Student Commission representing the Olin Health Center, and Caitlyn Worley was appointed to the University Student Commission representing the Student Health Advisory Council. Both will serve full terms ending on April 30, 2017.
Ongoing litigation: City Attorney Tom Yeadon requested that the public portion of the meeting be adjourned at the conclusion of the agenda so that an executive session of the Council could be used to discuss issues of pending litigation. That occurred.
Reminder: You can speak to City Council during the public comments portion of its meetings or write to Council on any topic at email@example.com.