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Mon August 10, 2009
City Council to consider Complete Streets ordinance tonight
By Rob South, WKAR News
LANSING, MI – The Lansing City Council tonight could vote to approve an ordinance designed to make Lansing's streets friendlier to walkers and bikers.
The Complete Streets ordinance was introduced to council through a petition drive. It would require the city to include a network of trails and paths for non-motorized transportation.
The group "Walk and Bike Lansing" collected 5,000 signatures to get the Complete Streets ordinance this far. Tonight, the city council will hold a public hearing and could vote to put the ordinance on the books. Supporters had hoped that by going through a petition drive, the ordinance would escape any alteration by the city council for two years.
But last week, the city attorney made the opinion that if the council approved the ordinance, it could make changes right away.
Councilmember Eric Hewitt requested the attorney's opinion. He says he has no intention of changing the ordinance, but says it could limit the city's ability to collect state and federal grants.
"The ordinance as it's being proposed is fine, but may need to be enhanced to make sure we take full effect of all of the money that's available to us. And if we were to lose that capability of changing language in that ordinance for two years, we may be putting the taxpayers in the city of Lansing at a disadvantage and also not being able to work as a regional partner," Hewitt says.
Councilmember Kathie Dunbar helped with the petition drive and says the ordinance would have no impact on grant applications.
"Any plan that's created from this ordinance would end up having to come to Council for approval anyway, and we would have the ability just like we do with the Master Plan or the Parks Master Plan to make changes as necessary to apply for grant funding. So, for me, I don't understand the motivation to change the request. That makes no sense to me," Dunbar says.
The council will hold a public hearing on the Complete Streets ordinance tonight at seven o'clock in City Hall. If the plan is rejected, it will be automatically placed on the November ballot.