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Chamber: Concern Lansing Abatement Proposal Could Have 'Unintended Consequences'

They fear proposed process could be abused

The Lansing City Council is scheduled to vote today on an ordinance that would require city contracts that give economic incentives for private developments to be authorized under an open bidding process.

Developers say that bringing a City Council into the development deals would create obstacles.

For example, developers in Ann Arbor have had to negotiate with City Council members who demand affordable housing units or particular site improvements on projects that would otherwise require routine zoning variances. In many instances, expensive features had to be added with the developer paying the additional costs to get the zoning changed. Some Ann Arbor developers have claimed the City Council holds them hostage to advance its own political agenda.

A spokesman for the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce said its members are concerned that the proposed ordinance might have unintended consequences.

Steven Japinga, director of government relations for the Lansing chamber, said, “There is an uncertainty how the process will be done.”

The tax abatement proposal appears related to a protest by the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights. According to the Lansing State Journal, the union objects to the compensation paid to nonunion workers by the developer of a $90 million Lansing development called the SkyVue project. The project is set to receive some $25 million in incentive payments.

Lansing City Council members Judi Brown Clarke and Adam Hussain didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.