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Monday, June 17,2013

Kids in the Hall

Rezoning an old gas station, moving forward with the Wet Weather Program and a Jackson National Life agreement

by Sam Inglot

Monday, June 17 — The Lansing City Council unanimously approved rezoning a vacant piece of property in the Stadium District tonight to make way for a multi-story, mixed-use development.


The site, 600 E. Michigan Ave., piqued the interest of developer Pat Gillespie earlier this year, who wants to turn the former gas station into a three- or four-story mixed-use development. The rezoning process was held up for months in Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s office. The site was rezoned from light industrial to commercial use at the meeting tonight. The property is owned by the Ingham County Land Bank.


During public comment, David Vanderklok, an architect with Studio Intrigue Architects — the company working with Gillespie on the project — said over the last two or three years there have been two groups interested in the property, but that the industrial zoning “killed the progress both times” because the buildable area was not big enough. The rezoning fixes that issue.


The proposed development would feature a mixed-use structure with the first floor being commercial space and the upper floors serving as 31 residential units, Vanderklok said.


In other Council business, the folks on the dais unanimously approved the first five-year phase of the city’s Wet Weather Control Program, which combines the city’s Combined Sewer Overflow Control Program, storm water and sanitary sewer programs into one. The main purpose of the Wet Weather Program is to increase the sewer system capacity and combat public health issues like basement backups, Public Service Director Chad Gamble has said.


There was also a public hearing at tonight’s meeting on an agreement between Alaiedon Township, the city and the $100 million expansion of Jackson National Life Insurance Co.


The agreement, which will be back in the Development and Planning Committee on July 17, would allow the city to generate income taxes off the employees who are hired through the expansion, provide an “infrastructure fee” to the city and would allow the city to garner a portion of the property taxes from the new development.


Council President Carol Wood said the infrastructure fee would essentially replace the money that Jackson National would be asking for through a personal property tax exemption, which will come at a later date.


“It makes us whole,” she said. “We don’t really lose those dollars.


The Alaiedon Township board will be voting on its portion of the agreement at its July 22 meeting, Wood said. The agreement will likely come before the full Council for a vote on July 29.


During public comment, Council regular Kathi Raffone rocked black clothes, a black swim cap-type hat and had black tape crossed over her mouth. She had a very special message for Bernero and his “ladies” on the dais — Jessica Yorko, Kathie Dunbar and Tina Houghton.


Here’s what Raffone had to say:


THIS SILENT STATEMENT IS MY DEMONSTRATION OF OUTRAGE AT THE INJUSTICE PERPETRATED AGAINST THE MAJORITY OF THE COUNCIL AND THE CITIZENS OF LANSING BY VIRG AND HIS “LADIES” DURING THIS FARCE OF A BUDGET PROCESS. IT’S AN INSULT TO OUR INTELLIGENCE AND ON THE SAME LEVEL OF A RIGGED BASKETBALL GAME. NO MATTER HOW HARD THE OTHER PLAYERS WORKED — WE LOST!! A FEW SOLD OUT THE WHOLE TEAM! GROW UP, GIRLS. DITCH THE SORORITY. THIS ISN’T HIGH SCHOOL!

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