Keep Auburn Hills Green … Not Overgrown

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

Well, it’s finally here, that time when we trade our snowblowers for lawnmowers.

Almost time to cut the grass!
Almost time to cut the grass!

It’s also time to remind Auburn Hills’ residents, property owners, and businesses of our City’s ordinance regarding grass and weeds.  Essentially, grass that has grown over eight inches in length is deemed a nuisance.

Once that height is reached, Code Enforcement Officers will issue a Violation Notice, either by affixing a green sticker to the property advising that the grass must be cut within 72 hours or by mailing a Violation Notice for cutting within 10 days.

The exception is what the ordinance calls “unimproved property.”  This is defined as property that is vacant and in a subdivision where there are buildings on less that 50% of the properties.  These properties will be issued Violation Notices when the grass reaches 16 inches.

If the grass in violation is not cut within the allotted time period, the ordinance authorizes contractors to cut the grass and bill the owner for the cost of the cutting plus administrative fees.  If these bills are not paid, a lien can be placed on the property.  The vast majority of property owners in Auburn Hills maintain their lots well within the limits of the ordinance.

Special attention is given to these properties and citizens can assist.  If there is a property in your neighborhood, particularly one that cannot be observed by Code Enforcement Officers from the street due to being in the rear or behind a privacy fence, please call Community development at 248-364-6900.

Let’s work together to keep Auburn Hills green, not overgrown.

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Keep Auburn Hills Green … Not Overgrown

Gardener’s Gold

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Water Resources Coordinator

black-gold-sifted-compostGardening is becoming a popular pastime with increasing numbers of people wanting to grow their own produce naturally, without the use of harsh chemicals.  If you have plans to start a garden this year or find it a challenge to grow large healthy plants, maybe you could benefit from some “gardener’s gold”.

Those with a green thumb know that gardener’s gold is more commonly known as compost and that using it in your garden can enhance the productivity and fertility of soil.  When used on a regular basis over several years, compost provides a reservoir of nutrients that are continuously available for plants and helps restore microbial populations in the soil.  It also improves soil structure, retains water and encourages root growth.

The good thing about gardener’s gold is that you don’t have to go to Fort Knox to get it.  The South Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority (SOCRRA) is offering screened and cured compost at no or low cost.  No need for armed guards when you load your vehicle.  You can shovel your own — FREE to residents of SOCRRA communities and Rochester Hills and $5 to residents of all other communities.  If you need a larger load, SOCRRA can load your trailer with a bucket loader for $5 per cubic yard, with a minimum charge of $15._garden-compost

SOCRRA’s yard waste compost site is located at 1741 School Road in Rochester Hills.  Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm.  The yard will also be open on Saturdays in May and June from 8am to noon.

Enjoy a hardier, healthier garden!

Gardener’s Gold

Turbocharged! BorgWarner Plans Expansion

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

More good news!  The excitement keeps building as development continues to move forward at a fast pace in the City of Auburn Hills.

Fortune 500 company BorgWarner, known globally for transmissions and turbochargers, is proceeding with a $1.4 million investment at their Powertrain Technical Center (PTC) located at 3800 Automation Avenue.

The new addition will increase the size of BorgWarner's PTC facility to just over 190,000 sq. ft.
The new addition will increase the size of BorgWarner’s PTC facility to just over 190,000 sq. ft.

What’s driving their success?  Increased consumer demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles has signficantly elevated interest in their products and services.  Their customers include Chrysler, Fiat, General Motors, Ford, VW/Audi, Toyota, Renault/Nissan, Hyundai/Kia, Daimler, BMW, Honda, John Deere, and many more.  Last year, Crain’s Detroit Business listed BorgWarner as the sixth largest OEM parts supplier in North America.

BorgWarner has a significant footprint and employs over 600 people in the City of Auburn Hills.  In addition to the PTC, the company’s World Headquarters is located at 3850 W. Hamlin Road.   This amazingly successful company operates manufacturing and technical facilities in 57 locations in 19 countries.  Yes, their home base is located right here in our town!

The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing to review their expansion plans on Tuesday, April 30th, with a final decision by the City Council on Monday, May 6th.

There’s going to be a lot construction activity around here this summer.  Keep it coming.

Turbocharged! BorgWarner Plans Expansion

Wild Kingdom

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

I wonder how many of you remember the TV show “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom?”  Marlin Perkins was the narrator and young Jim Fowler always seemed to actually face the wild animals.  Now there’s a new version on Animal Planet.

During my daily patrols around Auburn Hills, I have seen lots of critters.  Here are some photos I’ve taken in the last seven years working in “Auburn Hills’ Wild Kingdom.”

An 8 pointer on Taylor Rd.
An 8 pointer on Taylor Rd.
A swan family on Pond Run
A swan family on Pond Run
A prehistoric looking crane on Taylor Rd.
A prehistoric looking crane on Taylor Rd.
A turkey trotting down Bald Mountain Road
A turkey trotting down Bald Mountain Road

This next one is my favorite.  I’m going to hold off identifying them right now.  Maybe you can figure out what they are.  I had to ask Tom Katich, our plumbing inspector and resident outdoorsman.  I spotted these guys on Alberta Street on the North end of town.

turkey buzzard

Give up?  They are turkey buzzard chicks.

Send us your favorite Auburn Hills critter pix and maybe we can put them together at a later date.  Meanwhile, enjoy this Wild Kingdom.

Wild Kingdom

Going Taller, Getting Smarter

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Auburn Hills refuses to rest on its laurels.  Always looking for ways to get better and stay competitive on the national and world-wide stage.  Being proactive and nimble are some of the critical DNA which form our town’s genetic code.

So, what did we do when trusted advisors warned us that potential investment, jobs, and tax revenue could “pass on” our community because our industrial building height standards were too restrictive?  We listened!

What did we learn?  We found that companies which manufacture and warehouse materials are changing to adapt to 21st century demands for modern equipment and improved efficiencies.  The term “clear height” was the key.  Clear height is the dimension between the floor and the bottom of any device hanging from the ceiling – such as roof supports, heaters, light fixtures, indoor cranes, or sprinkler heads.  We were advised that the City’s 40-foot building height limitation was becoming an obstacle for further growth.  That’s a problem – when you stop growing, you start dying.

The amount of space a community allows between the floor and ceiling makes a big difference when a company is deciding where to invest millions of dollars.  The taller the height, the more efficient the building.
The amount of space a community allows between the floor and ceiling makes a big difference when a company is deciding where to invest millions of dollars. The taller the height, the more efficient the building.

Therefore, after considerable study by the Planning Commission, the City Council recently decided to amend its zoning laws by making the following changes:

  • Increased the building height, allowed by right, in all industrial districts from 40 to 50 feet.  Practically speaking, when you stop and look at an industrial building from the roadway, you would see very little difference between a 40-foot and 50-foot structure.
  • Allow, via a special permit, taller building heights up to 65 feet in targeted industrial areas that are designed for such use and isolated from populated residential areas.

Yes, zoning changes are not exciting and this policy revision did not make the local news; but, it was a very smart and timely move.  We just heard this morning that a company plans to build one of these taller buildings right away.  It’s now a “go” project, which will bring new investment dollars and jobs to the City of Auburn Hills because we listened and kept an open mind.

No doubt, being proactive and nimble has its rewards.

Going Taller, Getting Smarter

When the Governor Calls … You Serve

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Executive Assistant

We are pleased to announce that our very own Jeff Spencer, Building Official in the great City of Auburn Hills, has been appointed to the Michigan Barrier Free Design Board by Governor, Rick Snyder.

Jeff Spencer, Building Official
Jeff Spencer, Building Official

This nine-member board assists the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs with reviewing and processing requests for exception to barrier-free design specifications as well as making recommendations for barrier free design rules.  “Jeffrey brings more than 40 years of experience to the board and I appreciate his willingness to serve in this role,” Governor Snyder said in a press release.

Closer to home, Jeff is a member and former president of the Oakland County Building Officials Association and member of the Southeast Michigan Building Officials and Inspectors Association. Last year he served on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA).  But most importantly, he has served the residents and businesses of Auburn Hills for over 25 years.

Congratulations, Jeff on your appointment.  We’re proud of you!

When the Governor Calls … You Serve

Do You Know Ann?

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Executive Assistant

Ann Taylor Factory Store is opening soon in Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, and if you know Ann, this is good news.  Ann Inc., a corporation whose purpose is to “inspire and connect with women to put their best selves forward everyday” has a lineup of successful companies. Great Lakes Crossing Outlets will now be home to two of them.

LOFT, a division of Ann Inc., has been a fixture (pardon the expression) at the outlets since last September.  Located between TJ Maxx and Saks Fifth Avenue in District 2, LOFT carries clothing and accessories that are modern, approachable, feminine and affordable.

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ATFS PHOTO FOR BLOGThe Ann Taylor Factory Store, as the name suggests, offers discounted merchandise from Ann Taylor.   A champion of the modern working woman, the clothing and accessories here are professional with polished, more structured offerings.  A unique combination of fashion, work and flattering fit.

Set to open in mid-May, it will be located in District 1 between Banana Republic and Nautica.

Happy Shopping!

Do You Know Ann?