Something New Coming to Meijer

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

I have to admit that I’m a little partial to Meijer.  They are a Michigan-based company and have terrific stores.  Being vegan, I especially love their variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.  My family shops there weekly for groceries.

Meijer is an American success story.  Many are not aware that the company is credited with being the first “hypermarket” store in the United States.  A hypermarket is a retail establishment that combines a supermarket and a department store all under one roof.  These superstores are designed to satisfy all of a customer’s shopping needs in a single trip – saving people both time and money.

We wanted to let folks know that a new service is being added to the Meijer Superstore at 800 Brown Road.  Construction is expected to be complete by the third week in June for The Optical Shop.  It will be located adjacent to the Great Clips Hair Cut Salon in the front of the store.

Vision Center at Meijer Set to Open in Mid-June

The Optical Shop is owned by an outside company called US Vision, which has a license from Meijer to operate within its stores.  This additional service will allow Meijer to provide exams, eyeglasses, and contact lenses at discounted prices for its patrons.

So, now you can fill up your car with gas, buy groceries and merchandise, pick up your drug prescriptions, get your hair cut, do your banking, and have your eyes checked – all at one place.

Meijer keeps innovating.  It will be interesting to see what services they add next.

Something New Coming to Meijer

An Eggs-traordinary Meeting

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Wow!  The Planning Commission had an interesting meeting last night.  With the help of experts from the Oakland County 4-H Club,  the group tackled the issue of planning for “backyard chickens” in residential areas.  The event was a lot of fun and very informative.  Hey, even this City boy got to hold a hen.

May 29, 2012 Planning Commission Meeting – Backyard Chickens

I know what you are thinking … Backyard chickens?  Really?  Well, we have found that there is a growing segment of the population that wishes to know where their eggs come from.  However, today in the City of Auburn Hills, folks are prohibited from raising chickens unless they own a “farm” on 5 acres or more.  After learning more about the ins and outs of chicken keeping, it has become very clear to us that the City’s existing standards are much too restrictive.

Young lady who helps raise chickens with her family

If done right, we are now convinced that chickens and residential neighborhoods can peacefully coexist.  The Planning Commission is developing standards, based on the advice of experts, which would allow up to 6 hens to be raised in a backyard – an increase from the limit of 3 hens originally proposed.

The design of the required chicken coop and associated fenced enclosure is being carefully considered along with setbacks from adjacent properties and homes to address potential nuisance concerns.  Oh, most importantly – no roosters will be allowed.

The Planning Commission anticipates it will review the final “draft” the new Backyard Chicken Keeping Ordinance on June 26th and then forward the law to the City Council for potential approval in July.

You got to give the Planning Commission credit.  They don’t just look at an issue.  They fully immerse themselves into solving complex challenges.  No doubt, the group does a great job for the community by always planning ahead.

Planning Commission Chair Greg Ouellette experiencing chicken keeping at the May 29th meeting
An Eggs-traordinary Meeting

Classroom for the Day

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Water Resources Coordinator

It was quite a sight to see … Recently, 240 kids from Avondale High School gathered along the banks of the Clinton River at Riverside Park armed with kick nets, waders, tape measures and test tubes.  I am sure many people who drove by wondered … “What in the world are those kids doing?”

Well, they were participating in a real-world science project called “Stream Leaders” sponsored by the Clinton River Watershed Council.  The special one-day event teaches kids about the importance of keeping local rivers clean.  The students first collected macroinvertebrates and water samples from the Clinton River, then recorded and interpreted their findings.  Employees from Chrysler Group, LLC graciously donated their time to help the kids and teachers.

Macroinvertebrates are a great indicator of the long-term health of the river.  Among others, students were finding dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, scuds, crayfish, and caddisfly larvae.  These species are some of the most pollution sensitive, so their presence was a good sign and indicated high water quality.

The kids really enjoyed learning about science in the real world.  It is great that we have a living classroom in our own backyard!

Classroom for the Day

How Sweets It Is!

Posted by – Laurie Johnson, Economic Development Coordinator

Daughter of the new owner of Sweets busy getting the place ready

Great News!  A new business called Sweets! is coming to Downtown Auburn Hills.  Owner Kathy Genautis plans to open by mid-June.

Sweets!, an ice cream and café – serving delicious baked goods too – will be a family owned and operated business.  They have been busy learning the “ins and outs” of running a creamery and getting set up in their newly purchased building at 3395 Auburn Road, Suite C, which is located at the corner of Auburn and Squirrel Roads (the former Nana’s).

I spoke with Kathy and she stated that Sweets! will be focused on selling products that are known for their quality, while keeping the prices affordable.  It will be the first and only store in Michigan to sell Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream.

The delicious ice cream is specially made in Madison, Wisconsin.   Flavors like Zanzibar Chocolate (Kathy’s favorite), Heaps of Love, Zoreo, Halley’s Comet, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, Yippee Skippee, Caramel ChocoLatte, and Iced Latte-Da are just a few that will be offered.

Sweets! will also serve Great Lakes Coffee, having their own house blend.  They will also rotate other coffees as the seasons change and the coffee bean “world crop locations” change.  Ghirardelli Syrups will be used with both ice cream and their coffee menu items. Three caffeinated ice creams, which have the same amount of caffeine as an energy bar, will also be part of the menu.

For pet lovers, Sweets! will offer doggie treats and cones too.  So take a walk with “man’s best friend” to this fun place and have a treat for you and your companion.

I want to try Yippee Skippee ice cream first.  What flavor will you choose?  After our ice cream we can say, “How Sweets it was … Yum!” 

See you soon at Sweets!

How Sweets It Is!

Backyard Chickens: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Interested how chickens and residential neighborhoods can coexist?  Well, so are we.

Next Tuesday, the Planning Commission will continue its in-depth review of potential changes to the City’s Zoning Ordinance to allow the raising of chickens on residential property.  The Commission decided to address the issue because of increased requests from citizens wishing to keep chickens in their backyard for fresh, organic eggs.

The keeping of chickens in residential backyards is a new trend muncipalities are addressing nationwide

Our invited special guest – Oakland County 4-H Poultry Club – will be at the meeting to share with the Planning Commission their expertise in the proper raising and safe keeping of chickens.  The club will also bring a coop they built, along with a few chickens, to help demonstrate the features of a safe chicken enclosure.

The new ordinance will address the number of chickens permitted, prohibition of roosters, proper setbacks, type of coop allowed, and safety of the chickens.

We encourage all who may be interested to attend the meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 29th at 7:00 p.m., which will be held at the Auburn Hills Community Center.

We expect it will be an interactive and informative meeting.  Feel free to bring your children, so that they can learn about chickens and city planning.   Hey, what can be better than that?

Backyard Chickens: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?

Celebrating A Small Victory

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

We don’t stop very often to celebrate the small victories.

It seems like life moves 100 miles per hour and we just finish one task and move on to the next.  However, on Monday night, life seemed to slow down for me.  It took a hug and a firm hand shake from a young pastor to stop me in my tracks.  A small celebration between two new friends who had bonded in pursuit of a mutual goal.

A few minutes before, Pastor Corey James had just received approval from the Auburn Hills City Council to convert a vacant office building into a permanent facility for the Community Impact Church.  The 2½ year old congregation currently meets in rented space at the First General Baptist Church in Downtown Auburn Hills.  Now, they finally have a place to call their own.

It may seem hard to believe, but finding a new home for the non-denominational Christian church was not easy.  We first met Pastor James and members of his congregation in early July 2011, when they were looking at occupying part of an industrial building near Featherstone.  Our team met them at the site and after looking at the place, we knew right away that the building would not be a good fit for a church.  It did not have enough parking and needed substantial, cost prohibitive upgrades per building and fire codes to safely accommodate large gatherings of people.  We were straighforward and open with them about the challenges, but the news was frustrating.  Pastor James wanted a space for his church and our advice seemed like a big roadblock.

A few days after the meeting, Pastor James spoke to Building Inspector Hosea Crumpler about his frustrations with the process.  Hosea explained to him that we were protecting the congregation and proactively suggested that they look at the vacant building at 2240 N. Opdyke Road.  Before we knew it, the church bought the building.  However, they still needed a special permit from the City Council to operate.

New Home of the Community Impact Church – 2240 N. Opdyke Road

At first, it seemed like a simple task for the church to obtain the necessary permits.  The vacant building was perfect in terms of size and location for their growing congregation.  It was a win-win for everyone.  As discussed in my previous blog – A Few Can Make A Big Impact – we had an active member of the community choosing to stay and relocate in Auburn Hills.   You could not write a better story.

However, complications arose with the fact that the church would be too close, per State Law, to a restaurant that sold alcohol.  Together, we thought that we solved that challenge, until more questions were raised which caused a two-week delay.  The Pastor was worried that the congregation may not be able to worship at this “perfect” building they had already purchased.  It was another roadblock.  Feeling his frustration, I personally reassured him that we would get the church through this … that everything would be OK.

So, after the City Council unanimously approved the church’s permit Monday night – we both knew that we accomplished something important together as a team.  Pastor James gave me a hug and wanted me to know that “together we made history” in the life of his church.  Those words went straight to my heart.

As a drove home after the meeting, I remembered his words and tried hard to calm my mind.  My small role in helping Pastor James reminded me that I am so very blessed.  I not have only found my calling as a public servant, but also have the privilege to work at a place like the City of Auburn Hills.

Congratulations Pastor James.   Thank you for choosing to grow your church in our town.  Thank you for the small victory.

Celebrating A Small Victory

It Was A Beautiful Day!

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Executive Assistant

For the 20th year in a row, gardeners came together last Saturday morning under beautiful sunny skies for the City’s largest Perennial Exchange ever.  The event was hosted by the Auburn Hills Beautification Advisory Commission.

2012 Perennial Exchange Event – Hosted by the Auburn Hills Beautification Advisory Commission

Under the pavilion in River Woods Park, it is estimated that over 80 of our green-thumbed friends traded different varieties of perennial plants, shared gardening tips, and enjoyed listening to guest speaker and gardening expert – Linda Lapinski.  We are very appreciative that Ms. Lapinski generously donated her time to present information on native plant species in Michigan and answer gardening questions.  She was a big hit!

Along with our hometown residents, participants traveled from as far as Armada to join in the fun!   Folks attending also came from Detroit, Richmond, Bloomfield, Clarkston, Rochester Hills, Waterford, Pontiac, and White Lake.

Gardening prizes (e.g., wind chimes, gardening gloves, kneeling cushions, and citronella candles) were raffled off to 20 lucky winners.  Everyone who registered received a seed packet, so that they could start their own new perennial plants.

This great event is one of many ways the City of Auburn Hills works to restore, preserve, and enhance the beauty of the community for our citizens.  It was truly a pleasure to be a part of it.

For more information on programs and services provided by the Beautification Advisory Commission, please contact the Community Development Department at 248-364-6900.

It Was A Beautiful Day!