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Judge rules annexation of Groesbeck will not be on November ballot

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A judge has ruled that a ballot proposal which could have turned part of Lansing Township over to the City of Lansing cannot be on November's general election ballot.

The proposal would have asked voters whether to approve the annexation of Lansing Township’s Groesbeck neighborhood into the city.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum had initially included the proposal on the ballot after the Lansing City Council approved it. But the township opposed the move and filed a lawsuit against the clerk and the city.

Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Clinton Canady III issued a temporary injunction last week to keep the proposal off the ballot until a hearing could take place.

Following the temporary injunction, the City of Lansing filed an emergency appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals but the court ruled in favor of the judge's decision. On Monday, the judge once again sided with the township.

In his ruling, Judge Canady said that Lansing did not have the power to annex Groesbeck because it does not entirely surround the township. Furthermore, because the proposal did not show support from 20% of voters in Groesbeck it could not legally move forward. The proposal petition brought to the city of Lansing had 120 signatures.

The community shares borders with several other Greater Lansing communities including the city of East Lansing and Delta Township.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor says the judge is misinterpreting The Charter Township Act. Section 34 of the act defines how townships can be annexed.

"The portion of the township fully surrounded by the city can vote to determine if they want to be in the city or remain in the township. And the judge disagreed and feels that it needs to be the entire township circled by the city," Schor said.

The City of Lansing's interpretation of the law is that a part of the township can be annexed as long as the area it's being annexed into completely surrounds its borders. This is the case for Groesbeck, as Lansing borders every side of the neighborhood.

Schor says the city hasn't decided whether they would be seeking additional legal action.

"We'll certainly talk with the residents. This is their requests. This isn't our request, this is their request to vote on this. So we'll certainly see what the residents want to do," he said. "But the ballot is done. So we have time to review it and make a decision. There's not another election for quite some time."

Johnny DeMarco, one of the petition’s organizers, said he was disappointed with the decision.

"We tried. It was, you know, simple civics. But, we agreed with what the judge says and we just haven't had a chance to have a meeting with everybody," he said.

A new resident led petition would need to be filed for the proposal to be included in the next election cycle.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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