Environmental Group, Nearby Residents Want Red Cedar Development Sped Up

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Support to move forward on a project to redevelop the Red Cedar River golf course in Lansing was strong during a public hearing Monday night at Lansing's city council meeting.

It's a redevelopment project that might've hit a wall last Thursday after the owners of the Frandor Shopping Center, which sits across the street from the site, filed a lawsuit against the City of Lansing attempting to stop the public hearing from taking place to address the project's drainage assessment.

There's more than just a financial cost to a development delay. The Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, Mid-MEAC, is trying to get everyone involved in the "Red Cedar Renaissance" moving forward more quickly because it wants the "Montgomery Drain" system replaced.

The drain system is dumping storm water and pollution from Frandor and surrounding areas into the Red Cedar River.

Proponents of the plan see the project as a two-fold win for those both in and around the drain district.

"It's an environmental win because we fix the drain that's polluting the river," said Julie Powers, executive director for Mid-MEAC.

"But it also has an economic benefit, if we can stop people worrying about flooding, not being able to get flood insurance or having to pay exorbitant amounts for insurance."

Others who live near the Red Cedar River and drainage district are optimistic it could permanently put a stop to re-occurring flooding.

"We're undertaking a multifaceted approach to to controlling flooding in that area and I think this project will fit in nicely," Rick Kibbey said.

Meanwhile, developer Joel Ferguson contends the lawsuit filed last week by Frandor is frivolous.

"How can you ever file a lawsuit to stop a public hearing," Ferguson said. "The $52 million we're spending to get the site ready for development has nothing to do with what the drain commissioner is doing and we can prove that."

Frandor's attorney Michael Perry wouldn't comment any further to reporters other than offering brief remarks during Monday's public hearing.

"Frandor wants to make sure of three things: that the process is fair to all the parties whose property may be impacted by this and who will be taxed to pay for this, that the process be free of conflict, and that the process be transparent as it can be," he said.

No decision was made Monday night. The public hearing was part of a larger petition process that has to happen before the drain commissioner can begin to draw up plans and determine costs to come up with an assessment.

The plan now will go back to committee for a recommendation before coming back to the full city council for a final vote.

Ingham Co. Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann suggested Monday night there could be more public hearings down the road as designs and cost estimates begin to take shape.

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