You Don’t Have to Be An Olympian to Earn a Gold Medal

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Need a break from watching the Olympics?  Had your fill of swimming, gymnastics, and beach volleyball?  Well, we would love to see you at the Auburn Hills Planning Commission meeting tonight.  The festivities start at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall.

Although their agenda looks lengthy, we expect the Commission will move quickly – like swimming star Missy Franklin – through the following topics:

Item #1:  Backyard Chicken OrdinancePotential changes to the City’s Code allowing the raising of chickens on residential property will be finalized.  The Commission has been studying the issue since April in an effort to accommodate increased requests from citizens wishing to keep chickens in their backyard for fresh, organic eggs.  Their recommendations will be forwarded to City Council for consideration in August.

Planning Commission met with members of the Oakland County 4-H Club in May

Item #2:  Holiday Sales Lots Regulations – Discussions will begin on a potential amendment to the City’s Zoning Ordinance to allow seasonal Christmas tree and pumpkin sales lots to operate with an administrative permit.   This amendment is being reviewed as a result of the our experiences working with The River Church near Downtown Auburn Hills and their Christmas tree sales lot over the past few years.

The River Church has hosted a Christmas tree sales lot in the past with City Council approval.
Chrysler’s signs have been iconic

Item #3:  Large Format Temporary Wall Mural Regulations  – Over the past decade, a few businesses have installed large temporary signs on their buildings.  The message on the sign must pertain to the business in the building, such as a service provided or product produced.

The City’s Zoning Ordinance allows these signs to be up for 120 days.  A business may erect up to four murals per calendar year, but the maximum time allowed for all the signs installed is 240 days per year.

The potential change being considered is to allow buildings like the Chrysler Group LLC Headquarters skyscraper to utilize these temporary signs year round.

Item #4:  Auburn Road West RezoningsThe draft City-initiated rezoning applications will be reviewed and discussed.   The rezonings are intended to implement the recently approved West Auburn Road – Neighborhood Master Plan, which addresses property along both sides of Auburn Road, between I-75 and the Clinton River Bridge.  The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing to formally review these rezonings on August 21st.

Item #5:  Y2011-2012 Planning Commission Annual Report Per State law, the Commission will formally review its past accomplishments and discuss plans and priorities for the upcoming reporting period.  We had a great year.

So, come join us.  As an incentive, my kids have designed a special Gold Medal for “Achievement in Civic Engagement” for those dedicated individuals who skip the Olympic coverage (or just DVR it) and attend the meeting.  It’s sure to be a collector’s item!

Maybe you’ll get a Gold Medal designed and created by my kids?

You Don’t Have to Be An Olympian to Earn a Gold Medal

What does ABB and Bon Jovi Have in Common?

Posted by – Laurie Johnson, Economic Development Coordinator

ABB is globally known for its robotics.  Business is good and they have been ramping back up with the hiring of 150 employees over the last two years, with 25 to 30 positions still available.  The company currently employs 450 people in the City of Auburn Hills.

We recently visited ABB and toured their facility at 1250 Brown Road.  During the tour, we were able to view a power washing system for parts that they developed.  The robots use water to clean the parts, not chemicals, so it’s very “green.”

A neat little story came out during our visit regarding the fame of their robots.  The rock band Bon Jovi was performing at The Palace of Auburn Hills recently and ABB was contracted to build several robots to hold screens for their performance and a platform for lead singer Jon Bon Jovi to stand upon.

Bon Jovi used the robots during their performance to have one huge picture by combining several screens, then all the screens moved apart having the same picture on them.  It was a real crowd pleaser.  Pretty cool stuff these robots from ABB are involved in at night.  So, what do ABB and Bon Jovi have in common?  Robots!

We appreciate ABB being a part of Auburn Hills and look forward to great things coming from them as they continue to venture into new fields.

What does ABB and Bon Jovi Have in Common?

Heads Up … Fire Planned Near N. Squirrel Road

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Next time you drive by the intersection of Tienken and N. Squirrel Roads, take a moment and check out the really tall grass that borders the roadway like a wall.  This invasive vegetation is called Phragmites australis or Common Reed and it’s not good.

Why are we telling you this?  Well, we wanted to let you know that some of this “bad grass” is scheduled to be removed with a controlled burn within the next few weeks.  Since this fire will occur close to the roadway – and there will be towering smoke for a short period of time – we wanted to give folks a heads up.

If not addressed, Phragmites will degrade wetlands by creating tall, dense stands that crowd out native plants and animals, while also creating a potential fire hazard under dry conditions.

This “bad grass” removal project is called a prescribed ecological burn.  Historically, fire was a regular occurrence here in southern Michigan.  Many of our local ecosystems such as prairies, dry oak-hickory woodlands, and wetlands used to burn frequently.

Today, non-native plant species – like Phragmites grass – are invading our wetlands and decreasing the diversity of native plants and animals.  By using fire, native species are enabled to re-grow and out-compete many of the non-native ones.  This type of treatment is encouraged by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to aid in the control of Phragmites.

In a nutshell, here are the details:

  1. The burn will be conducted on a limited portion of a MDEQ-protected wetland, which is located on the west side of N. Squirrel Road, between Shimmons and Tienken Roads.  The planned burn locations will be immediately adjacent to N. Squirrel Road, as shown on the map below.
  2. The timing of this burn will be weather-dependent.  The exact date it will occur cannot be predicted due to wind direction and temperature considerations.  However, it’s scheduled to take place sometime in mid-August, and will likely be done in the afternoon between the hours of noon and 4:00 p.m.
  3. The burn activity will be conducted in a safe manner by trained personnel from David Borneman LLC, in cooperation with the Auburn Hills Police and Fire Departments.

    The burn will occur on the east side of the property in the areas shown above adjacent to N. Squirrel Road.

If you have any questions about this prescribed ecological burn, please feel free to contact the property owner’s representative, Robb Moore, at 810-655-6906 or the Auburn Hills Fire Department at 248-370-9461.

No worries … we know it’s coming and we’re prepared.

Heads Up … Fire Planned Near N. Squirrel Road

Mexican Food Lovers Rejoice!

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Looking for a quick and healthy meal?  Well, now you have a great option.

Qdoba Mexican Grill, officially opened yesterday at the Shoppes at Baldwin Square, across from Great Lakes Crossing Outlets.  This is the site of the former La-Z-Boy store, which was extensively remodeled last year.  Qdoba joins AT&T, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and Batteries Plus at the retail center.

Mayor Jim McDonald and Council Member Cheryl Verbeke welcome Qdoba to the City of Auburn Hills.

Qdoba offers an assortment of choices for its burritos and tacos salads, including pulled pork, shredded beef, grilled steak; as well as a selection of toppings such as three-cheese queso, guacamole, and fajita vegetables.

Think of Qdoba’s catering menu when planning your next business lunch meeting or family reunion.

No doubt, the best part of the Open House and Ribbon Cutting Event was feasting on their food.  The spread they set out is typical of what Qdoba offers as a catering option for its customers.  It was really good!

Special thanks to Denise Asker, Executive Director of the Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce and staff for organizing this ribbon cutting event.

Mexican Food Lovers Rejoice!

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Hookah

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

A new trend that’s growing across America has now arrived in the City of Auburn Hills.

Exhale Hookah Lounge is scheduled to open this Friday, July 27th at 2723 University in the Auburn Crossing Shopping Center.

We were first introduced to “Hookah” a few months ago when approached by owners Fadi Pattah and Rimi Hirmiz.  Although the concept was new to us, we soon learned that this form of tobacco smoking has been practiced around the world for centuries … and legally permitted by the State of Michigan.

Hookah is a “social style” of tobacco smoking which originated in ancient Persia and India. A water pipe is used to smoke tobacco specially made in a variety of flavors (e.g., apple, mint, cherry, chocolate, coconut, licorice, cappuccino, and watermelon).

How does it work?  Well, the tobacco is heated and its smoke passes through the Hookah pipe.  Then, the patron draws the tobacco smoke out of the pipe through a mouthpiece attached to a rubber hose.  The social aspect of the activity is that the hose is often passed from person to person in a group.  Like smoking cigarettes, Hookah smoking is intended to be an adult activity.  Patrons must be over 18 to enter the lounge per State law.

The owners recently received an exemption permit from the Michigan Department of Community Health to open the lounge.  Many may be aware that smoking is banned in all public places and work sites under the Dr. Ron Davis Smoke Free Air Law, which was implemented in May 2010.  However, a “Tobacco Specialty Retail Store” exemption was carved out of that statue for Hookah businesses.  Under this exemption, all types of tobacco products (e.g., shisha, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) may be smoked inside the lounge.

We just wanted to keep folks in the loop about another business opening up in our community.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Hookah

Funeral Supply Company Gives “Life” to Vacant Building

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Executive Assistant

Hilton Funeral Supply is celebrating 22 years in business as they relocate to the City of Auburn Hills.  The company, with its 10 employees, recently moved into the 4,000 sq. ft. building at 2790 Auburn Road, just west of the Sunoco Gas Station.

Hilton Funeral Supply is the process of renovating the existing building at 2790 Auburn Road

Tom Patten, President of Hilton Funeral Supply, is particularly excited with the presence his company will have in this location west of Downtown Auburn Hills.  With easy highway access close by and lots of traffic, he sees potential opportunities for business expansion in the future.

This family-owned company supplies funeral homes all across Michigan and surrounding areas with a variety of items ranging from register books to mortuary equipment.  Tom talks with pride about how his company can provide almost everything to a funeral home such as chapel furniture, flower stands, candles, memorial boards, and funeral flags.  They can also develop promotional products such as pens, umbrellas, and tote bags.

While funeral supplies may not be something we think about everyday, it’s interesting the variety of businesses that find new life in the City of Auburn Hills.

Funeral Supply Company Gives “Life” to Vacant Building

What’s the Deal with the Chickens?

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

We have been receiving a number of phone calls from people asking about the status of the City’s proposed Backyard Chicken Ordinance.

As many may be aware, the Planning Commission has been studying the issue in-depth since April in response to increased requests from citizens wishing to keep chickens in their backyard for fresh, organic eggs.  It’s currently a prohibited activity in the City unless your property is designated as a “farm” under the Zoning Ordinance.

The Commission intends to finalize its recommendations to the City Council later this month.  So, we encourage all who may be interested to attend their next meeting scheduled for Tuesday, July 31st at 7:00 p.m., which will be held in the Council Chamber.   We would love to hear your comments and suggestions.

If the City Council finds the proposed ordinance acceptable, then a new law could be in place by late August.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 248-364-6900.

What’s the Deal with the Chickens?