City council considers applying for pro-redevelopment certification

In an East Lansing City Council meeting on Wednesday, officials approved a resolution allowing city workers to move towards more developer-friendly policies. The policy guidelines were laid out by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, or MEDC, is a private, state government-funded organization aimed to bring businesses to Michigan cities, East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas said.

The MEDC evaluates cities through its new Redevelopment Ready Communities Program, or RRC.

The "Redevelopment Ready Certification" is given by MEDC to the cities which are developer friendly and "promote effective redevelopment strategies through a set of best practices," according to MEDC's website.

Some of the practices for cities include creating public participation plans to engage citizens in redevelopment decisions, incorporating graphics into zoning codes to increase understanding and creating a "guide to development" to help businesses become familiar with city rules and regulations.

One change to remove council review from site plans has caused controversy among the council.

"There are some things about MEDC that scare me," council member Ruth Beier said. "I am not alright with the removal of council review."

Currently, city council has only approved a resolution to proceed toward obtaining a certification from MEDC.

"(The removal of council review) would require an ordinance change," Community and Economic Development Administrator Lori Mullins said. "Moving forward with that item will require a whole different process and separate approval from council."

While council expressed issues with the specific changes, East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett urged members to see past the minor details.

"There will be more discussion on that (removal of council approval) issue," Triplett said. "We have been a little hung up on that topic, but there are a lot of changes in this program that will bring a net positive for EL."

Since the resolution to proceed has been approved by council, city officials can now work towards accomplishing the goals made by the MEDC.

In addition to the MEDC resolution, council also approved DTN's amended pre development agreement for the Park District Project.

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