City Market Vote – Liveblogging – Market Approved!

18 08 2008

The City Council is taking up the issue of the City Market at tonight’s City Council Meeting…I got the TIVO going on this one, but it’s going to be a long, long night.  There are almost 70 people signed up for public comment on legislative matters and general matters.  The Council did vote to limit public comment to 2 minutes instead of 3, but if everyone speaks, that’s still 2 hours and 20 minutes of public comment.

Before that though, Mayor Bernero made a few comments about the project.

He said it will create jobs for 100’s of skilled trades people and opportunities for citizens.  It will grow the city’s taxbase and help pay for essential services.  It will also clean up historic environmental contamination along the riverfront. The new building will be a $1.6 million new facility that is energy efficient and more spacious. 

“This is the plan that will catapult the Lansing City Market to new heights of success”

Update 7:51 PM – There were some updates to the final development agreement over the weekend. 

  1. Added definition to not include strip malls.  No single story commercial structure
  2. Defined expected economic tools from city.  Struck Dept. of Environ. Quality loan.
  3. Developer may make application for incentives that will require approval from City.
  4. Developer has agreed to make good faith efforts to hire diverse Mid-Michigan workforce.  Developer agree to put in contract with construction manager language that reads “All contractors must adhere to the City of Lansing’s taxing regulations which include reporting income tax and wage detail information.”
  5. Some dates have been tweaked a little bit to bring in to unity time to complete the project. 
  6. Closing date was moved up by a month from May1 to April 1 to fit new payment schedule.  Full payment for property due April 1 so construction cannot be started before property is sold
  7. Prepayments will not returned if developer decides not to build before closing
  8. In a scenario in the future, if he were to sell the building or piece of property to any non tax paying entity, he would agree to pay the full millage rate on the property 63.63 mills for 15 years starting with the date of the occupancy permit being issued on whatever that project is.

Update 8:00 PM – Public comment starts and one of the first guys up come out yelling about historical buildings and bashing the mayor and threatens that everyone up there can be replaced.

Update 8:08 PM – Great point just made by a market supporter.  Saturday markets are popping up over the place and in order for the City Market to be viable, there needs to be an attraction.  A new City Market is the only way to differentiate themselves from all the Saturday morning Farmer’s Markets in the area.

Update 8:26 PM – Just an observation, just about everyone who has been against the new Market has been over 50 and angry….really, really angry.  Not one person against the Market has gotten up and been civil.  They’ve all taken personal shots at Council members and developers.  Don’t people realize that doesn’t help their case?  I’m not surprised.  I’ve sat through my share of City Council meetings and this is pretty common, but still, don’t people realize they’re just hurting their cause.  I haven’t heard one good argument against building.  So far, it’s all been about the historic building.  Others are complaining about property taxes and the sale price.  One person complained about the city not marketing the current City Market which I don’t agree with.  When I first moved to Lansing, the City Market was one of the first things we heard about and got excited about…that just set us up for a huge disappointment.  Seriously, the lady up right now is crazy….why are people that are against things always like that?  Why can’t they stay calm, make a point, and further their argument?  Just curious.

Update 8:48 PM – Just as an update to my previous post, nothing has really changed with the demos of those against, but I also want to point out that a majority of people in support of the new Market are somehow affiliated with a group (ie Chamber of Commerce, Cooley Law School, etc.). 

The guy up right now comes out slinging mud and calling Pat Gillespie all sorts of names.  Saying dirty politics is involved..sarcastically thanking people for pushing this thru.  Again, great way to make your point. *sarcasm*

Update 8:55 PM – Finally!  Someone against the Market has a brain.  His argument is that there is no vehicle access from Shiawasse or Cedar.  Patrons would have to enter on museum drive, drive under Michigan Ave. and the Lansing City to get to the Market.  Also, vendors don’t have loading access to their booths like they do now.  They would have to use a shared loading dock.  Now THESE are good reasons not to vote for it.  It only took an hour for someone to make a good point.  Then he goes and ruins it by trashing Pat Gillespie.

Update 9:19 PM – They’re finally done with public comment on the Market issue.  They’re moving on to public comment for Government procedure.  There are 20 people signed up to speak here.  There were 50 in the other public comment section which just ended for a total of 70 public speakers tonight.  The comments were split fairly evenly for and against.  The one thing I will concede is most of the regular citizens spoke against the new City Market.  Most, but not all, of the supporters were business people with ties to an organization.

Update 9:29 PM – I really hate when people speak during public comment and think they talk for everyone in the City.  The people that are speaking now all spoke during the first public comment period….and they’re just as rude now as they were then.

Update 9:46 PM – Public comment is over in less than two hours.  They’re starting on agenda items now. The City Market vote is quite a ways down there.  It’ll depend on how fast they get through the rest of the agenda.

Update 10:00 – Three hours later, we get to the City Market Development agreement.  The first move is to substitue.  It’s thrown to the City Attorney for the substitute motion.  The substitute is to the development agreement that was presented earlier tonight.  Questions and comments.

Councilmember Carol Wood:  Thanks the people that have really worked diligently on the agreement.  She takes the oppotunity to clear up a few myths about Lansing and that council is not moving Lansing forward.  She says when she came on the council in 2000, the previous city council developed a housing plan which was a study about putting housing in the downtown area.  Because of that, the council has developed a number of lofts.  The misnomer that members of the council are not progressive and do not move forward are not true.  She also thanks labor for reviewing the agreement and set aside things that were important to them.  There were a number of holes in the development agreement given to them last week.  A number of council members have spent a great deal of time going over the agreement and asking questions to make sure they got the best deal for the city of Lansing.  There was an open ended check that was left out in the agreement that allowed any future tax abatements that might come forward that would tie the council to those based on the way the agreement was written.  Instead, they identified what was needed and moved those forward.  There was the issue of making sure they were held whole if the property went off the tax rolls.  The agreement started off at 15 years for 20 mills, but because of the question that were asked, they got 15 years at 60 mills.  They ended up saving the City almost 9 million dollars  This has been a very difficult and emotional discussion.  The Friends of the Market had been maligned in many ways.  Their goal was to make sure a Market would be developed best for the City.  There are a number of unanswered questions.  We do not have plans for a Market. We have a draft business plan.  There has been a number that have come to the podium that have talked about how the Market is currently run.  Those are question that have to be resolved. 

Councilmember Wood offers an amendment.  “Be it further resolved that before bids are let for the new City Market that the City Council will review those plans.”   Questions are raised about what that means.  Does the city have to approve them?  Would like to have City Council approve them, but not sure if she can do that.  City Attorney says City Council can not require they approve the plans. 

Councilmember Robinson – Worried that there will be no City involvement or oversight.  LEFPA will be in charge, but they don’t answer to a City department.  Is told the intent is to run through Planning and Development but there has to be a contract with LEFPA before they can finalize plans.

Councilmember Hewitt – On the ammendment, since it sounds like there is very little control over where this is going to go, he doesn’t want there to be no way for the City to not have control over a board that was appointed by the City.  Would like to bring it to the Intergovernmental Relations board.

Councilmember Sandy Allen – Surprised and disappointed.  Probably one of the most important votes this council will cast in quite a while.  Lots of people working hard and diligently.  When she got there tonight, she felt the resolution was a result of hours and hours of people getting together over the weekend asking quesitons and getting answers.  She felt this would be a win-win for everyone.  To her, this ammendment it raises a question of the difference between review and approve.  When you talk about approve, your talking about something that could nix the project. 

Councilmember Kathie Dunbar – Wants clarification on opinion that council doesn’t have question to purview.  Wants to see the plans and make sure Friends are involved in the process.  The question is, if it comes back to review and the timeframe comes up, can the council hold it up?  If they don’t have power to alter plans, they don’t need a resolution

Councilmember Tim Kaltenbach – He and Councilmember Hewitt serve on LEFPA board and will get to review plans.  He will personally make sure Council sees plan.  Doesn’t see need for the amendment.

Vice President Quinney – Calls the question.  Question called.  Amendment fails

Councilmember A’Lynne Robinson – The goal and job of Council was to work through very intense details that didn’t measure up.  The initial development agreement didn’t come forward as a well-bate? piece.  Pat Gillespie worked with Council and adjusted.  Thanks Council and Friends of the Market for being involved and able to have conversations that were necessary.  Initially, she had a lot of questions.  She believed there is a lot of credit that can go around in answering those questions.  One is labor that had a vested interest in the building of this project. Want to make it clear there is no stone that was left unturned in doing their job.  Thankful and think the Council has worked hard to get where they need to get.  Born and raised here and came back. City Market is extremely memory based for her.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  Happy with changes made ie. workforce.  Huge changes made over the weekend.  Thankful for all the work and effort and all the residents that came out. 

Councilmember Eric Hewitt –  Also thankful.  All markets talked about during different conversations is from an old historic building…this building isn’t.  Need to make sure we continue the tradition, but points out Pat Gillespie is a leader in development.  Groundwork was layed for all other development that will come in.  In the past, taxpayers have not gotten their fair shake.  $9 million City will get from the life of this project will go back to vital services.  We’re talking about three projects.  First is Marketplace which will vote on tonight.  The other two projects will be next.  We need to make sure the New City Market will bring the history of the tradition to the front.  The 100 year of the Market is next year.  The City’s Sesquicentennial is coming up as well.  We need to make sure we honor the traditions and history of our city.  The third project is the park we’re building around this. The new market will enhance the current park.  Want to make sure citizens have a voice in the project.  LEFPA is great, but there is no accountability.  We need elected officials that can be held accountable.

Councilmember Sandy Allen – Since all this started, the City Market magically came alive.  She was also born in Lansing and went to the City Market.  She went there as a bride to buy flowers.  Everyone used to go there as the thing to do on Saturday.  For 10 years now, she’s wanted to get rid of the City Market because it was dying.  Except for the most recent revivement, it has been dead.  Vendors have come and gone because they couldn’t make it there.  Mr. Horrock was also a vendor at the City Market.  He left and created a store that was a destination place because he has everything anyone could want.  What she wants to know is where have all these supporters been for the past few years.  Everyone she’s seen since this was proposed, she asks “How many times have you been to the City Market?”  90 percent say it’s been a year.  LEFPA didn’t really ignore the Market and neither did the Council.  They’ve had study after study and manager after manager and the Market continued to die.  Everyone’s complaining about the incentives that Mr. Gillespie is getting.  What do you think those are for?  Growth.  Development.  We can continue to grow and develop or we can just die.  Turn of the lights.  Turn in the keys and Lansing goes the way of Flint and Saginaw.  She trusts Pat Gillespie and he’s one of the few people she knows he can put her trust in.  We are in dire times, but we have to move forward.

Vice President Derrick Quinney – Thanks everyone. With the job creation and economic development, all these things are a plus for the City.  Asks to call the question…jokingly.

Council President Brian Jeffries -Wants to start and finish by thanking the Lansing taxpayer.  Even though they are not giving away money, they are giving taxbreaks that would go to the General fund that would help operate services in this City.  As they bring more development, they’re brining more people in the City and that stretches services.  The taxpayers make up for that.  This is the start of a relationship that they hope will bear a lot of fruit for the local labor market.  Knows the Friends of the Market are really hurt right now.  Very focused on what they wanted and in their beliefs and concerns.  Council has to do all it can to involve them as the project moves forward.  Everyone took a lot of heat and many were maligned in the press and by others.  This does a tremendous amount to move this City forward.

Roll Call Vote – 10:52 PM

Allen – Yes
Dunbar – Yes
Hewitt – Yes
Jeffries – Yes
Kaltenbach – Yes
Quinney – Yes
Robinson – Yes
Wood – Yes

Passes 8-0 Resolution is adopted…..and Council Chambers clears out….the meeting continues, but I don’t care about anything else on the agenda…thanks for reading along!  Remember, you read it here first…the news doesn’t come on for 5 minutes and the paper doesn’t come out until tomorrow morning. 🙂

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7 responses

18 08 2008
Corky

LOL…I thought that I was the only one addicted to watching Lansing City Council meetings…Thanks for the live updates!!! When I lived downtown, I was a regular attendee and it was always an educational (and entertaining) evening…Amy’s apartment complex doesn’t carry Comcast, so I don’t have the opportunity to watch the proceedings on TV…

If you haven’t done so already, you really need to attend one of the City Council meetings in person and watch the regulars and their cheering section in action…There is SO much action the camera doesn’t capture…

18 08 2008
Mid-Michigan Dining

Yeah, I’m kind of a dork too. I worked in news when I lived in Peoria and covered their City Council for two years. I got hooked. For some reason, I just like following politics….and City Council is usually the most entertaining.

18 08 2008
Amy

What I really want to know is…what is Christine Timmons wearing? She is a diva and knows how to pull off wearing a faux fur and feather boa in the same outfit. Her hair is usually glittered out and she may have crystals bedazzling her face. If you don’t know who she is, I can email you a picture of her!

18 08 2008
J

Christine is actually not as dolled up as usual. Although she looks like she’s wearing a dead animal on her head. She does have some bedazzling on her face though and some boat anchors for earings- but sadly no sequins tonight. She’s in the front row cheering away as people give their comments… she alone is entertaining enough!

18 08 2008
Mid-Michigan Dining

oh yeah…she got up there and it sounded like a Sunday church service….Can I get a witness?!

18 08 2008
J

And now she’s talking about her “hard earned disability check”… really? Hard earned disability? isn’t that an oxymoron?!

18 08 2008
Amy

Corky and I have gone to several LIVE meetings. They are quite a treat. I actually asked him if he wanted to go today, but I didn’t want to be at a meeting until midnight on a hot topic night like tonight! We were there one time and Christine got up and talked about the city’s budget. Here is my favorite Christine Timmons quote: “If I ran my personal finances like you run the city’s, I wouldn’t be driving my brand new bright yellow Chevy Cobalt!” A week later, Corky passed her in it on Miller Road near the Comcast building where she used to shoot her cable access show. Have you seen her public access shows? This is a whole different show here…you have to check it out! Now that I think about it…have you seen John Magnopoulos? He is another local treasure. You can find some videos on youtube of him or watch his show. I think he is on Monday night.

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