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Monday, January 24,2011

Tributes before the speech

The City Council will meet for a quick session before the mayor’s State of the City speech

by Andy Balaskovitz
Monday, Jan. 24 — The Lansing City Council will hold a brief meeting at 5 p.m. today before heading to' Mayor Virg Bernero’s annual State of the City address.

Tonight’s agenda is thin, consisting of two tributes and a vote to schedule a public hearing on amending a brownfield plan for the East Village community on Lansing’s east side.

The first tribute is in remembrance of David Miller, Sr. Miller lived in Lansing for nearly 40 years and played two years for the Lansing Crusaders minor league football team. He was also a coach for Lansing School District youth football teams.

The second tribute recognizes the career of Jon Coleman, executive director of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. Coleman plans to retire on Jan. 31. He started as a regional planner for the commission in 1975 and became executive director in 1986.

In other business, the Council is scheduled to vote on setting a public hearing for Feb. 14 on an amended brownfield plan for the East Village residential complex on the east side.

At-Large Councilman Brian Jeffries said the original brownfield plan that was approved under former Mayor David Hollister was inadequate. First, more environmental contamination exists than was originally discovered. Second, the plan needs to be adjusted because now only 125 units are planned for the property instead of 177.

“There are still some environmental issues. The environmental assessment missed a pocket that increased the costs (of remediation),” Jeffries said.

East Village was only 40 percent completed when it went into foreclosure in 2009. The Lansing Brownfield Development Authority issued bonds for $2.2 million in cleanup five years prior. It expected to be paid back as new units were built and property taxes were collected on them. But as the rest of the development went into foreclosure, the city has had to dip into its general fund to pay off the bonds. Jeffries expects that to continue for the next six years.

“Because it was getting less taxes, the city had to step up and make a difference,” he said. “This was the first and only time the city has agreed to having the Brownfield Authority issue bonds.”

Jeffries chairs the Development and Planning Committee.

The Council plans to complete its business by 5:45 p.m. on the 10th floor of City Hall, its usual meeting place. It will then reconvene at the Knapp’s building, 300 S. Washington Sq., for Bernero’s speech at 7 p.m.

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