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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Council committee moves forward with Niowave

Niowave ordinance, personal property tax exemption move out of committee

by Sam Inglot
Sam Inglot/City Pulse

Wednesday, Feb. 20 — Two pieces of business related to Niowave, the company whose construction of a massive pole barn has angered its neighbors, made some headway with the Lansing City Council today. 

In the first order of business, the Council’s Development and Planning Committee agreed on changes to the city’s special land use ordinance that would allow the Council to impose conditions on any new SLU.

The amendment is something both the Walnut Neighborhood Organization and the City Council have been pushing for to prevent economic development clashing with neighbors’ quality of life. Residents have been frustrated with the company’s building a 14,000 square-foot pole barn at its headquarters at Walnut and Kilborn streets. One neighbor has hired an attorney to see whether Niowave broke any laws by building it. 

To prevent Niowave-like situations in the future, the amendment adds several conditions to the existing SLU ordinance. The city could then impose conditions to future SLUs based on these new criteria: Compatibility of the special land use with existing adjacent land uses; use of land in a socially and economically beneficial manner; protection of the natural environment and natural resources; energy conservation; accommodation of increased public service needs likely to result from the special land use; and protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the property owner and community.

In addition to these criteria, the amendment also requires City Council notification and review of any new building or addition to an SLU that is over 1,000 square feet. The Council would then set a public hearing and all property owners within 500 feet of the property would be notified of the hearing at least a week beforehand.

The Council would then decide whether to approve the new construction. The committee did not formally approve the changes today, but rather sent them to the citizen-advisory Planning Board for further review. Councilman Brian Jeffries, who chairs the committee, said the amendment would likely go back to the committee before heading to City Council for a final vote.

In other Niowave business, the committee unanimously approved a resolution setting a public hearing on the company’s personal property tax exemption request for March 11.

Niowave is asking for a $328,000 personal property tax exemption over the next six years. After the public hearing, the exemption will be referred to the Committee of the Whole for a meeting on March 18. 

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