Kids in the Hall

By Andy Balaskovitz

A lingering medical marijuana moratorium and a brownfield extension for Demmer

Tuesday, Nov. 23 — Before Monday’s Lansing City Council meeting, a
medical marijuana moratorium ordinance was pulled from the agenda. The
ordinance would impose “a moratorium on the issuance of permits or
licenses for medical marihuana establishments.”

At-Large Councilwoman Carol Wood, who sits on the Public Safety Committee, said
language in the ordinance needs to be looked into by the city
attorney’s office.

City Attorney Brig Smith said in an e-mail that the pending issues are “based not on law, but policy.”

“I suspect the policy issues include whether a moratorium is needed and
what permanent policy would follow a temporary moratorium,” he wrote.

The resolution is likely to come before the Council next week and a public hearing will follow the week after.

In other business, the Council approved a 20-year extension for Demmer
Properties’ brownfield tax incentive plan that will reimburse the
company for the amount it spends on environmental cleanup and a new
ballistics testing facility.

Demmer Properties is an affiliate of Demmer Corp. and seeks the
improvements at the former Motor Wheel plant at 1600 N. Larch St. and
736 McKinley St. in north Lansing. The Council originally approved the
brownfield in 1999.

Along with a new ballistics testing facility, Demmer will invest
$335,000 to $1.1 million more in ongoing site cleanup, which was
advised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Depending on the
extent of the cleanup, which is still being monitored for groundwater
contamination, the company will either spend $335,000 to simply monitor
the soil for leaking contaminants or will have to physically remove
them, which could cost up to $1.1 million.

The resolution passed 5-2, with City Council President A’Lynne Robinson and First Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt opposing.

Robinson said she would not support the resolution because Demmer has
not given the amount of employees who are currently laid off. Demmer
spokesman Charles Barvieri said 996 employees receive paychecks from
Demmer, but could not say how many were laid off.

Robinson said she had been asking Demmer the same question since 2006
in regards to this brownfield plan, because Demmer promised to create
300-350 more jobs as a result of the incentive.

“I know that doesn’t answer your question,” At-Large Councilman Brian
Jeffries said to Robinson about the 996 figure. “But they have well
exceeded their mark.”

The roughly 38-acre site has manufactured wheel components for the military and passenger vehicles for more than 80 years.

In other business, the Council unanimously approved 12 other
resolutions and two ordinances ranging from tributes to winemaking

  • Two late-item resolutions were added to the agenda that schedule
    public hearings on Dec. 6 for an industrial facility tax exemption
    certificate for Foresight Property Investment, 2822 N. Martin Luther
    King Jr. Boulevard. Because the state denied an Obsolete Property
    Rehabilitation Act (OPRA) tax freeze on the property, the city has been
    advised to establish a plant rehabilitation district on the property,
    followed by the industrial facilities tax exemption. The state denied
    the OPRA certificate because it is an industrial site. “This tool works
    exactly the same way as an OPRA tax freeze,” Ken Szymusiak, of the
    Lansing Economic Development Corp., said in a letter to the city.

  • The Council voted unanimously to rezone nine properties in the
    Eastside Neighborhood that will allow local builder Dave Muylle to move
    forward on a dense residential development that will lead to 14
    cottage-style houses. Muylle owns all of the parcels and they sit on
    roughly one acre just south of Michigan Avenue between Leslie and
    Regent streets.

  • The Council agreed to schedule a Dec. 6 public hearing on updated
    language to the city’s wireless cell phone tower ordinance. The new
    language stipulates that anyone looking to build a wireless tower must
    first be locked in an agreement or an “option to lease” agreement with
    a telecommunications provider.

  • The Council gave out $750 to the Colonial Neighborhood Association
    ($250) and the Old Town Neighborhood Association ($500) for their
    respective planned holiday festivities.

  • A request by the Michigan Brewing Co. for a winemaking license was
    approved unanimously, granting the downtown restaurant permission to
    make their own wine at 402 S. Washington Square. “They indicated they
    will not be stomping grapes there,” At-Large Councilman Derrick Quinney

  • The city will donate an outdated “live scan computer,” or a
    fingerprinting machine, to Lansing Community College for research and
    training purposes.

  • The Council approved three fund transfers Monday. The first is for
    $113,806 for training the Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART) to
    address violence against women. The second is $156,836 in federal
    funding, which will be split between the Ingham County Sheriff’s
    Department and the city for police-related technology upgrades. The
    third is $125,204 from the federal government for the Lansing Police
    Department’s domestic abuse counseling program, Capital Area Response
    Effort (CARE).

  • A public hearing was scheduled for Jan. 10, 2011 that would rename
    a portion of Cavanaugh Road at the Hawk Island Park entrance after Dr.
    Donald L. Green, the pastor who founded the Lansing Baptist School.

  • The final two resolutions paid tribute to Denise Quarles and the
    Polish Falcons of America, Nest 652. Quarles was recognized for her
    work with Zonta International, an organization that promotes the status
    of women worldwide. Quarles serves as the governor of the District 15
    Zonta Club, which includes Michigan and parts of Ontario, Canada. The
    Polish Falcons, which promotes Polish culture in the area, was
    recognized for their 95th anniversary.