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Monday, January 10,2011

New personnel

A new City Council staffer and four public hearings on tonight’s agenda

by Andy Balaskovitz
Monday, Jan. 10 — The Lansing City Council is scheduled to vote tonight on replacing legislative office manager Terese Horn.

Horn has been a temporary worker for the Council offices since she retired Aug. 27. Horn worked for the city for 23 years. The Personnel Committee held interviews Nov. 17 for the job and recommends Karen Hulett.

Council members differed on whether to hire Horn. Some members felt that since Horn was collecting her pension and retiree benefits, on top of her $29.44 per hour wage that she was “double-dipping” into city funds. At-Large Council members Brian Jeffries and Carol Wood and First Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt were against the temporary contract.

The riff over granting Horn the contract even led Council staffers Diana Bitely and Danielle Stubbs to seek representation through the Teamsters Local 580 union. They too opposed granting Horn the contract.

In other business, four public hearings are scheduled on various city matters.

The first is on renaming a portion of a bridge section on Cavanaugh Road near the Hawk Island Park entrance after Donald L. Green, 82, of Parker Memorial Baptist Church. Green has been pastor of the church since 1955. This location was chosen due to its close proximity to Parker Memorial.

Former state Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, and former Lansing Mayor Tony Benavides each wrote letters in support of the memorial.

Second is a public hearing on establishing an historic district at the Marshall Street Armory on Lansing’s east side. The proposal was made by developer Pat Gillespie, who plans on setting up a nonprofit hub in the former armory, 330 Marshall St.

While an historic district designation means a more involved review process by the city for potential changes in the zone, it also means tax breaks on improvements.

Bill Rieske, an assistant planning manager, said developers are eligible for up to a 25 percent income tax break on qualified exterior improvements. Along with the tax breaks, the process becomes “a little more regulatory” via a Historic District Commission that closely reviews rehabilitation plans.

”It’s a stronger incentive, monetarily, but it does come with some regulation,” Rieske said. “Hopefully it provides an incentive for rehabilitation.”

A third public hearing will be on rezoning 934 Clark St. on Lansing’s east side from residential to a “D-1 professional office” district. Developer Ryan Kincaid wants to move his business’s headquarters from East Lansing to this parcel between Saginaw Street and Grand River Avenue. The Ingham County Land Bank owns this property that used to be a bakery.

The fourth public hearing is on amendments to the Employees’ Retirement System ordinance. Wood has said the ordinance’s language needs to be updated to coincide with new collective bargaining agreements that were made with the city.

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