City Council to consider development in the downtown district

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A suggestion made by East Lansing’s Mayor Mark Meadows could put a halt on development in downtown. 

The idea for a moratorium was first suggested by the Mayor at the nonvoting city council meeting on May 14th. The idea came as a surprise to members of the Downtown District Authority because they say decisions involving the district are normally always run past them first. That wasn’t the case with this. 

Keith Maynard works at Jonna’s 2 go in East Lansing. He said development in downtown has definitely put a halt on things, but that it’s good as long as it’s making the city better. 

“Anything that increases the revenue of the city, the state, and everything else ain’t always a bad thing… overdevelopment definitely is,” Maynard said. 

Officials could place a halt on development if the city council votes to approve the development moratorium that is on tomorrow night’s agenda. This came as a surprise to members of the Downtown Development Authority, who say normally they are consulted with anything that involves the district. 

“I was aware of their thoughts on it, but nothing’s come before DDA yet,” Greg Ballein, a member of the DDA said. “Ordinarily the process is you know, is to put it out there for comment, have city produce their reports, go through planning commission, the DDA, and then city council.”

This time the DDA was skipped and Ballein says he’s not sure why. 
East Lansing’s Manager George Lahanas said it was simply a timing thing. 

“I think there will be certainly more regular communication on, but I think it really is probably just the timing of the meetings and when they happen and that this was kind of a recent discussion from council,” Lahanas said. 
   
Lahanas says the moratorium would be in place for ninety days as they develop a new form-based code. 
     
“The form-based code is a very significant revision to our zoning code for our downtown,” Lahanas said. He added that it’s taking some time to complete and that the council wants to put a pause on developments so that they align with the code when it’s complete. He also said the council wants to conduct a housing study to determine the future needs of the downtown area, but that their goal is to continue to urbanize the area. 

“We’re really pleased with the development. I think we’re going in the right direction, and I think this is just a small pause to be able to look at a couple of important policy issues,” Lahanas said. 

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