Updated: Former City Center II property’s future remains undecided

Well into Tuesday night, the East Lansing City Council discussed before a crowd of residents the future of the formerly proposed City Center II property, an ordinance that would allow those looking to sell their homes to rent them for a short period of time, and approved the contract of East Lansing and Lansing Fire Department Chief Randy Talifarro.

The council decided to send the proposition back to the planning commission for review and a recomendation for the future of the site as well as attempt to solve the parking issue.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Darcy Schmitt said the ordinance concerning rentals won’t have much effect on students because few own homes in the area.

The property initially proposed for City Center II, however, has a prominent place on Grand River Avenue. Developing the site could mean more amenities for students.

During last week’s council work session, Councilmember Vic Loomis questioned whether city council can approve a site plan if property owners owe back taxes.

According to city tax records, City Center Project, LLC, which owns the properties at 124-140 W. Grand River Ave., and 341 and 345 Evergreen Ave., owes more than $89,000 in taxes from the summer and winter of 2012 on both properties.

Property owners of 100 W. Grand River Ave., Cada Investment Group, LLC, owe more than $39,000 in taxes covering the same period.

In a memo from City Attorney Tom Yeadon to council, he said the city charter “does not preclude the city council from approving a site plan due to unpaid taxes by the property owner or any other ‘delinquency.’”

The development on the properties of 100 and 124-140 W. Grand River Ave., have faced many obstacles in the past couple of months.

At the Dec. 5, 2012 planning commission meeting, the original site plan was turned down.

Revisions were made, including the removal of residential living on the first floor.

One of the ongoing issues council members have with the project is parking for residents of the proposed building.

City officials are working on a proposed ordinance that would allow property owners to provide their own parking, which might solve the issue. Still, Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett said although the proposed ordinance might solve the parking issue, it’s unclear whether it will help the chances of the site plan being approved.

“I’m not prepared to vote for a site plan that is contingent on the approval of an ordinance council may or may not vote to approve months from now,”
he said.

Update – 1:43 a.m.

Speaking on behalf of The People’s Church, 200 W. Grand River Ave., Dave Ledebuhr said the church greatly appreciated the removal of residential living on the first floor and the developers’ willingness to make other adjustments, but parking still remains their big issue.

“We still strongly believe that parking is a significant issue for buildings of this size and nature,” he said.

Charles Popovich, senior architect at Bergmann Associates, the architects for the project, said parking still is their only hold back in moving forward with the project and asked council to approve the site plan contingent on the proposed parking ordinance.

The last issue on the agenda was approval of Talifarro to continue as fire chief for both Lansing and East Lansing, which was passed unanimously by council.

The council also set a public hearing date for Feb. 5 to a proposed ordinance to ban anymore hookah lounges from establishing themselves in East Lansing.

The city council planned to discuss the possible approval of a liquor license for the new restaurant Black Cat Bistro, but the item was taken off the agenda with no timetable for when council will discuss it next.

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