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Monday, March 18,2013

Kids in the Hall

The Lansing City Council makes East Village a little more attractive

by Andy Balaskovitz
Tuesday, March 1 —The Lansing City Council approved five resolutions Monday night meant to encourage further development at the East Village residential development on Lansing’s east side.

The Council unanimously approved an amended brownfield plan for the developer and four property tax abatements for future residents.

The brownfield plan will reimburse East Village’s new developer, Allen Edwin Homes, the costs of cleaning up the contaminated land through incremental property tax increases.

The four Neighborhood Enterprise Zone abatements — which will allow potential residents on those four parcels to pay 50 percent of their property taxes for 12 years — are meant to entice homebuyers into the development through property taxes on the cheap. East Village is on Saginaw Street adjacent to Central Catholic High School.

In other business, the Council unanimously adopted an ordinance to rezone 117 E. Hillsdale St. downtown from a commercial district to an “apartment shop district.” At-Large Councilman Brian Jeffries said this was a “downzowning” that allows the property owner to use the whole house as a residential rental unit. As it stood, the second floor of the structure was used for housing, while the bottom floor was a beauty salon, Jeffries said.

In other business, the Council adopted three resolutions paying tribute to local residents and organizations. The first was for the 10th anniversary of Closing the Digital Gap, a program that collects unused computers and offers computer training to low income residents. Since its inception, the program has trained more than 10,000 people and has donated more than 4,000 computers.

The second tribute recognized local barber Lou Tallarico for his retirement Saturday and the closing of Lou’s Barber Shop, 521 E. Grand River Ave. in Old Town. Lou’s celebrated 74 years in the same location.

The third tribute recognizes the third annual Pastor’s Salute event from Saturday, which recognized 32 outstanding pastors in the city.

Mayor Virg Bernero also gave a presentation recognizing the National Association of Women in Construction.

In special election news, City Council Vice President Kathie Dunbar announced that an online “widget” will be available today on the city’s website that will help city residents calculate their property taxes with and without a proposed 4-mill property tax increase.

Last week, the Council voted 6-1, with At-Large Councilman Brian Jeffries opposing, to approve holding a special May 3 election on a property tax increase for city residents.

A 4-mill increase is expected to generate about $8.5 million for police, fire and roads services in the city and would lessen the burden of patching a roughly $15 million projected budget gap next year.

As for the election, City Clerk Chris Swope said his office was slightly behind on getting absentee ballots out to “permanent” absentee voters, or those who vote absentee without first requesting a ballot from the city to do so. Those should be out by next week and anyone else who wants to vote absentee May 3 should contact his office.

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