Lansing City Council sets public hearing, approves mayoral letter of support for Iowa Great Places designation application

by Julie Berg-Raymond

During its regular meeting Monday, February 20, the Lansing City Council set a public hearing date for the Maximum Property Levy. That public hearing will be held Monday, March 6 at 7 p.m. in Lansing City Hall.

Andrew Boddicker presented the first full draft of the objectives and projects that will be listed as part of Lansing’s application for an Iowa Great Places designation through the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. After a brief discussion, the council approved having Mayor Melissa Hammell write a letter of support for the City’s application. The final vote on the Vision Plan is scheduled for March 6.

The council approved hiring Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC) at a cost of $1,700 to complete a grant application for funds to install water and sewer lines on 2nd Street leading to the new bridge once construction on the bridge begins. The estimate provided by the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) for the installation is approximately $240,000.

In his report to the council, Duane Estebo of PeopleService noted that he completed and filed the Tier II report with the State of Iowa January 10. “This is in regards to the amounts and location of hazardous chemicals that the City stores and uses,” Estebo said. He also completed the annual Water Use Report for the State of Iowa, a report of all the water gallons pumped in 2022.

January 4, Estebo said, they repaired a broken skimmer line at the wastewater treatment plant. January 9 and 10, they took the jetter out and flushed Dodge Street behind the school. They also flushed South 5th Street. “Dodge Street flows into South 5th, so we flushed out that whole line,” he said. The next day, they jetted the city hall line.
January 11, Estebo wrote and mailed a letter and form to the homeowners whose service lines will be affected when work starts on the new bridge. The water main, along with a section of sewer main, will be moved. The Iowa DOT wants a temporary construction easement from these homeowners.

During the Citizen Concern portion of the meeting, council member Ian Zahren presented information about HF 296, a bill regarding the ability for local municipalities to regulate short-terms rentals. The bill calls for prohibiting cities with populations over 75,000 from regulating short-term rentals - which means cities under 75,000 people can regulate them, Zahren said.

“Given our 30 percent vacancy rate in housing and high number of Airbnb’s - which are often wealthy investors buying up prime affordable housing stock and converting it into short-term rentals - we desperately need regulation that is in our control to deem how many short-term rental licenses can be acquired in Lansing,” Zahren said in an email following the meeting. “Doing this will ensure that our housing stock is not taken up by wealthy investors, and that families can live here.”

Zahren said he sent a letter to State Representative Anne Osmundson, who, he noted, “is on the fence” as regards her vote on the bill - which does, he said, enjoy broad bi-partisan support. “I strongly encourage residents to email Anne regarding this bill,” Zahren said.

In other business, the council approved amending a motion made November 7, 2022 for Non-Union Employee Health Insurance and HSA amounts to maximum contribution rates - $7750/Family and $3850/Single. A liquor license renewal for Shep’s Riverside also was approved.

The next regular meeting of the Lansing City Council is scheduled for Monday, March 6 at 7 p.m. in Lansing City Hall.