Sept. 28 2017 09:53 AM

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Tension over CADL appointment

Meridian Township officials were disappointed when the Ingham County Board of Commissioners appointed Sandy Drake to the Capital Area District Library Board.

Email between township leaders and employees as well as with county officials obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed Township Supervisor Ron Styka was “not happy” to learn July 26 that the board passed over his choice, Marna Wilson.

In a June 12 email, commission administrator Becky Bennett said Drake was the only person to have formally applied. A July 26 email to Styka from another township employee, Michelle Prinz, alleged that CADL ignored their request and confirmed Drake instead of Wilson. Styka responded to Prinz by stating his unhappiness with the situation. Further emails between the employees said the situation would be “dealt with.” Drake is listed on CADL’s website as a board member.

Township revising master plan

A new draft of Meridian Township’s master plan might influence serious change throughout the area.

Meridian Township’s Planning Commission introduced the draft in July. If approved, it will be the first revision to the master plan since 2005. Updates to the township’s master plan have been delayed since. Commission members will face a tough decision: pushing into further urbanization with higher density housing or maintaining the township’s rural appeal.

The new plan states its goal is to adopt policies and programs that preserve “open spaces, natural areas, other undeveloped areas” and “agricultural land uses.” Three areas of Meridian Township are the subjects of proposals to increase density: Carriage Hills, the Haslett four-corner commercial district and downtown Okemos. The plan intends to develop walking space for shoppers and commercial housing developments such as apartment complexes.

The draft also includes the adoption of an Urban Service Boundary. Areas outside of the boundary will not be provided with public services such as water and sewage. As a result, further development on the township’s rural eastern areas could be hampered.

Public hearings begin in October.

Country Mill wins injunction

Controversial farmer Steve Tennes will continue to sell his Country Mill Orchard products through the end of October at the East Lansing Farmers Market.

The reason? Citing the costs of appealing a decision earlier this month by Federal District Court Judge, Paul L. Maloney, the East Lansing City Council decided not to appeal the preliminary injunction.

Tennes brought suit on behalf of his business, Country Mill, after the city refused to issue him a permit this year to sell his products at the market. City officials said he violated the city’s nondiscrimination law, which prohibits discriminating against people based on sexual orientation among other categories. Tennes announced in December he would not rent his Charlotte orchard for same-sex wedding events.

Tennes, being represented by the nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, claims the denial violated his religious liberty by impinging on his free speech related to his faith. The religious nonprofit legal organization is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, for its anti- LGBTQ activtiy. The ADF recently lost a similar case in Minnesota, where a federal judge ruled against a videography company for refusing to shoot same-sex marriages.

The preliminary injunction does not represent a final decision in federal court. Depending on the final ruling, East Lansing may still be able to deny its 2018 application, if Country Mill files one.