City of East Lansing

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1 City of East Lansing Commission on the Environment 2023 Annual Report January 1, 2023 December 31, 2023 Submitted to: Mayor of the City of East Lansing City Council of the City of East Lansing

2 The Commission on the Environment (COE) is pleased to submit its 2023 Annual Report. This year, we focused on advancing environmental policy through ordinance updates, fostering collaboration with regional partners, and engaging the community in impactful initiatives. Policy Advancements A central focus in 2023 was updating key ordinances. Our long-term effort to update and codify the 2009 green building policy culminated in a proposal ready for implementation. This policy, crafted in collaboration with developers and academic experts, was presented twice to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), underwent legal review, and represents a significant step towards sustainable construction practices in East Lansing. We strongly encourage the Council to support this critical effort to ensure sustainable development practices across our city. Additionally, the COE and its subcommittees discussed the gap in recycling amenities for older multifamily housing units built before the 2007 ordinance update. A policy framework that ensures recycling access to off-campus students and renters is a priority of this commission. Furthermore, the Commission is developing clear code amendments to promote pollinator- friendly landscaping practices, including allowing for intentionally planted native grasses and rain gardens with exemptions from current lawn height restrictions. Significant progress was also made towards updating the City s wetland protection ordinance with performance standards and clarifying language. Looking ahead, the COE plans to propose policies facilitating the transition from gas-powered lawn care equipment to electric alternatives. This initiative, inspired by successful programs in other communities, aims to address resident concerns about noise and emissions pollution. In 2023, we partnered with the UofM Graham Sustainability Institute to research program approaches and assess case studies, ultimately receiving a recommended plan for implementation. The Commission explored solutions in 2023 and intends to recommend their implementation in Collaboration for Success Regional cooperation played a vital role in our environmental progress. The COE and staff s collaborative efforts with peers from Lansing, Meridian Township, and others strengthened our position for grant funding. This collaborative approach secured an $8 million Community Charging Infrastructure Grant for regional electric vehicle planning, resulted in the completion of a regional compost feasibility study, and other advancements towards community sustainability. Furthermore, the COE's participation in Recycle Rama alongside the three counties, Delhi Township, Lansing, and BWL ensures consistent messaging and the availability of essential recycling amenities for all area residents. We are also proud of our collaborative management of MS4 requirements through the Greater Lansing Regional Committee for Stormwater Management, which is often touted by regulators as a model for communities across the state

3 and nation. The City s continued support and participation in these efforts is efficient, effective, and spurs other partnerships to mutual benefit. Additional Highlights No Mow May: Spearheaded by the COE and Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission, this initiative, with over 400 participants and substantial media coverage, promoted pollinator health and sparked conversations regarding year-round sustainable landscaping practices. Wet Weather Resiliency: We applaud the Council's support for the City's Wet Weather Resiliency Plan, a critical step towards climate adaptation, taken in Grant Funding: Major environmental grants were pursued and awarded, positioning the Commission and the City as a whole to achieve/implement its sustainability commitments. Strength in Continuity The remarkable stability of the COE membership throughout 2023 fostered a strong foundation of knowledge, shared priorities, and established relationships. There was no commissioner turnover in 2023, and this continuity significantly contributed to our progress on key environmental initiatives. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the City Council on these important efforts towards a more sustainable East Lansing. M ai n M eeti ng Age nda Items: Jan 2023 No meeting Feb Heard (and read) public comments regarding concerns of 5G small cell devices and their potential impact on wildlife, human health, and trees. 2. Discussed potential priorities for utilizing the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant opportunity. 3. Discussion of No Mow May roll-out. 4. Discussion of subcommittee work, primarily updates to the wetlands protection ordinance. Mar Moved to support the COE as a signatory of a joint letter to Council, asking for a policy resolution to be signed to facilitate community participation in No Mow May. 2. Discussion of proposed Valley Court Park improvement project. 3. Continued discussion of EECBG grant opportunity.

4 4. Discussion among commissioners stressing the importance of COE advocacy regarding the use of ARPA allocations. Apr Heard public comment regarding Lansing Board of Water and Light tree trimming practices. A perfect example is a tree service lansing mi company that adheres to all the guidelines required to operate in Lansing, Michigan. 2. Presentation/introduction of Ron Lacasse, Acting Director Ron Lacasse 3. Presentation on proposed solar array at DPW facility. 4. Discussion of potential updates to the Multi-Family Housing Recycling ordinance language compel amenities at all apartment complexes. May Staff presentation on the City s urban forestry program and proposed changes to funding and management of Street Tree program. 2. Staff presentation on the status of the Curbside Recycling Contamination Reduction pilot program with EGLE, The Recycling Partnership, and Prairie Robotics. 3. Discussion of No Mow May participation and community feedback. Jun 2023 No meeting Jul Reviewed wetland impact application for a project at 2680 East Lansing Drive. Heard presentation from ASTI, the city s wetland consultant. a. Moved to adopt wetland consultant recommendation that the City not regulate the wetland, as it was determined to be a naturalized stormwater pond under authority of the Ingham County Drain Commission. 2. Presentation from Midwest Group and MSU Mass Timber on proposed enabling legislation for mass timber development in City. 3. Recap of final No Mow May feedback/experiences/participation. 4. Discussion of EGLE High Water Infrastructure grant award and upcoming wet-weather resiliency planning project. Aug Heard/read public communication regarding the City s lawn height restriction and underground lead-clad cables. 2. Staff presentation on the City s solar energy system ordinance, recent changes to federal incentive structures, and BWL s shift from a net-metering to distributed generation program. 3. Discussion of wetland ordinance update process. 4. Discussion of progress on Green Building Policy update. Sep 2023

5 1. Presentation from Michigan Waterways Stewards regarding their programming and the discovery of e-scooters in the Red Cedar River. 2. Discussion of the FY2023 Urban and Community Forestry Grant deliverable; staff presentation of the Tree Manual/Standards of Practice document. 3. Review of grass height ordinances; discussion of alternative approaches and removing barriers to intentionally planted native grasses. Oct Presentation from Matt Apostle on the Community Development Advisory Committee and selection of representative from COE. 2. Discussion on proposed amendment to Clinton County s solid waste management plan. 3. Set a COE tour of the Water Resource Recovery Facility. Nov Presentation from Granger Waste Services regarding proposed changes to the Clinton County Part 115 Solid Waste Management Plan. 2. Creation of an ad-hoc subcommittee to explore e-scooter licensing/ordinance updates. 3. Discussed recent meeting with planning regarding Green Building Policy. 4. Update on Wet Weather Resiliency Planning project. Dec Read public comment regarding gas powered small engine emissions.