Feb. 1 2011 12:00 AM

Corridor committees: Who made it, who didn’t

Tuesday, Feb. 1 — The Lansing City Council appointed four citizens to study main transportation corridors in the city at Monday’s meeting. But that was after it blocked one potential appointee.

The Council blocked Scott Gillespie’s appointment to the Michigan Avenue Corridor Improvement Authority because two Council members sensed a conflict of interest.

Gillespie, owner of the development group The Gillespie Co. (and brother of developer Pat Gillespie — Stadium District and Prudden Place are among his projects), was said to have an “undue influence” by First Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt. Hewitt added that Gillespie has property interests along Michigan Avenue.

“While it may not be a full ethics issue, this is an individual whose business is to buy properties, develop them and make money off them,” Hewitt said. “I encourage other opportunities for him to serve Lansing.”

Council President A’Lynne Robinson agreed with Hewitt. “I agree he would be an asset in another capacity,” she said.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Jessica Yorko saw it differently, adding that it could be a benefit to have someone with property development experience.

The resolution to appoint Gillespie failed 4-2, with Hewitt and Robinson dissenting. At-Large Council members Derrick Quinney and Carol Wood were absent from the meeting.

Questions were also raised about the four appointees’ residences after Council regular John Pollard noted only one of them lives within the city limits. However, City Attorney Brig Smith said they merely need an interest in the corridors — residential or otherwise.

The Council is in the midst of appointing members to the Michigan Avenue and Saginaw Corridor Improvement authorities. Both committees include eight members.

Committees from the city, East Lansing and Lansing Township will hold separate meetings over the course of the year and come together under one committee to recommend potential redevelopments. These two corridors are being studied in light of the 2005 state Corridor Improvement Authority Act, a bill meant to spur economic development along main urban roadways.

Joseph Ruth and Joan Battley-Finken were appointed unanimously to the Michigan Avenue authority. Ruth is an East Lansing resident and chief operating officer and executive vice president at Sparrow Health Systems. His term expires June 30, 2014. Battley-Finken lives in Brighton, but is chief financial officer at Young Bros. and Daley, a long-time landscaping business at 720 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing. Her term expires June 30, 2012.

The Council unanimously appointed Michael Schury and Kira Carter to the Saginaw Corridor Improvement Authority. Schury is treasurer of the Westside Neighborhood Association. Carter is president and CEO of Sparrow Specialty Hospital, 1210 W. Saginaw St. Both terms expire June 30, 2014.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero appeared at Monday’s meeting to inform citizens that the Public Service Department is addressing concerns about tonight’s predicted snowstorm.

Bernero asked that cars not be parked on city streets between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Wednesday so plows can easily pass through. He said that if Lansing gets as much as snow as predicted, it could take up to a couple days to get streets fully cleared.

“Whether we get four inches or 14 inches, our crews will be ready,” Bernero said.

In other business, the Council adopted an ordinance to rezone 934 Clark St. on Lansing’s east side. The Ingham County Land Bank owns the property, but developers are interested in setting up a business incubator that could house multiple small entities. The property went from “B” residential to a “D-1” professional office district.

In public service news, the Council unanimously approved nine traffic control orders throughout the city:

  • Reconfiguring Mt. Hope Avenue east of Aurelius Road to the city limits. The less than one-mile stretch would be reduced from four lanes to three and bike lanes will be added on the north and south side of Mt. Hope;

  • Stop signs on Meadowlane Drive at the Aragon Drive intersection in north Lansing near the airport;

  • Stop signs on Hillsdale Street at the intersection of Cherry Street in the Cherry Hill Neighborhood downtown;

  • Stop signs on Muskegon Avenue at the intersection of Glenrose Avenue in north Lansing near the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s property north of Comfort Street;

  • Reconfiguring Express Court at Holmes Road in south Lansing between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Pleasant Grove Road to include a second southbound approach lane;

  • Installing stop signs and establishing parking zones along City Market and Museum drives downtown;

  • Stop signs on Norburn Way at the intersection of Waycross Drive in south Lansing near Marscot Park;

  • Stop signs one block east of Norburn Way on Marscot Drive at the intersection of Waycross; and

  • A stop sign on Manly Drive at the intersection of Wabash Road just south of Forest Road in south Lansing.

In scheduling news, the Council set dates for a public hearing and a meeting of the Elected Officers Compensation Committee. The public hearing for Feb. 21 is on rezoning 117. E. Hillsdale St. from a commercial district to an apartment shop district in the Cherry Hill Neighborhood. The property owner wants to convert the house into two apartments, At-Large Councilman Brian Jeffries said.

The first Elected Officers Compensation Committee is at 1 p.m. Feb. 11 in the City Council conference room on the 10th floor of City Hall.