Thankful For This City

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Tomorrow is a very special day.  Not just because we get to watch a parade, gather around the TV to view a football game, or feast on a huge meal.  It’s special because everyone across our great country will pause their hurried lives, gather with family and friends, and give thanks.

Every year at Thanksgiving our family passes a hat around the dinner table and we throw in short hand-written notes about what we’re thankful for.  Those notes are then read out loud.  Many are really silly, but most are heartfelt.   It’s just a good reminder for all of us.   It’s a healthy practice to take a day to pause and count our blessings.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what a great place the City of Auburn Hills has become.  About the many leaders, staff, and citizens who helped build this town over the decades.  So, I plan to give thanks for this City tomorrow.  Not just because it gives me a job that sustains my family and my passion, but because it’s a wonderful collection of people, commerce, industry, and innovation.

AH logo

Have you ever thought about giving thanks for the City of Auburn Hills?  For its good financial health.  For the safe neighborhood you live in.  For the good roads you drive on.  For the excellent services it provides.  What about the people who work or volunteer for the City?  Such as:

  • City Council, Boards, and Commissions – folks that care deeply about the future of Auburn Hills and give their time and talents to better it.
  • Assessing Department – that works to make sure taxes are applied efficiently and fairly so that the services we have come to expect can be provided into the future.  Not an easy job, but they do it so very well.
  • City Clerk’s Department – that keeps our records organized, runs our meetings, and holds well-run elections.  Did you know that many municipalities in the region look to learn from them and their best practices?
  • City Manager’s Office – that sets a “tone of excellence” internally at the City and gives us the tools we need to do our jobs.  The talented people in this Department often have the tough job of being the public face of the City, while several of them work behind the scenes with incredible service and kindness.
  • Community Development Department – that watches over the safety of our buildings, keeps our neighborhoods clean, encourages smart land use planning, has an eye on the environment, and is dedicated to grow the community.  I’m soooo thankful for these good people.
  • Department of Public Works – that plows our streets fast and efficiently, watches over our public utilities, and is always forward thinking so that the burden of infrastructure maintenance is not placed on future generations.
  • Emergency Services Department (Police/Fire) – who will go anywhere within minutes to protect and help us.  Always serving and willing to put their lives on the line for others.
  • Finance Department – that creates and facilitates the five-year budget for the City so that tax dollars are spent wisely.  These very smart and talented people watch over “other people’s money” – a.k.a., your tax dollars – like it’s their own.
  • IT Staff – the unsung heroes of City Hall that fix our “unfixable” computer and printer issues with incredible customer service.
  • Library Staff – who work hard to provide a wonderful cultural and learning environment for the City.  They’re top-notch.
  • Recreation Department, including Fieldstone Golf Club – who organize and run so many outstanding events and programs that make Auburn Hills a real community, not just a place with a lot of people.  They have a vision to create an award-winning park system and run the best municipal golf course in the State.
  • Senior Services Department  – such caring and dedicated folks who watch over our most vulnerable elderly like they’re family (often when society fails them) and provide programs and services for seniors unparalleled for a community our size.
  • Treasurer’s Department – that take care of the City’s billing and collection of property taxes with great skill; often working with amazing professionalism with the few who express their displeasure paying their taxes.

Perhaps tomorrow you could offer up an additional blessing at your Thanksgiving meal for the City of Auburn Hills, for the outstanding town it has become, and for all the good people who help it function at such a high level.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Have a wonderful holiday!

Thankful For This City

Dollar General Retail Store Proposed for Opdyke Road

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

As a follow-up to our previous blog, Fiero Lanes Property To Be Redeveloped, the Planning Commission is scheduled to review a developer’s proposal tonight to construct a new Dollar General retail store at 645 S. Opdyke Road.

Founded Springfield, Kentucky in 1955, Dollar General is one of the nation’s largest small-box discount retailers, operating more than 8,965 stores in 40 states. They offer a variety of the most popular brands at low prices.
Founded Springfield, Kentucky in 1955, Dollar General is one of the nation’s largest small-box discount retailers, operating more than 8,965 stores in 40 states. They offer a variety of the most popular brands at low prices.

The demolition of the dilapidated bowling alley building is anticipated to take place within the next few months and ground breaking is proposed to take place in Spring 2014.  It’s Dollar General’s goal to have their grand opening in Fall 2014.

The vacant Fiero Lanes (shown in this photo) will be demolished.  The new Dollar General will help beautify the Opdyke Road Corridor by adding significant greenspace and 40 trees to the site (none exist).
The vacant Fiero Lanes (shown in this photo) will be demolished. The new Dollar General will help beautify the Opdyke Road Corridor by adding significant greenspace and 40 trees to the site (none exist).

The total investment of the project is estimated at $1 million.  The new store is expected to employ approximately eight to ten people.

For those interested in learning more about this proposal, the Planning Commission meeting will be held tonight at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall in the Council Chamber.

Dollar General Retail Store Proposed for Opdyke Road

Statistics Don’t Lie

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill once said that there are three kinds of lies: “Lies, darn lies, (he didn’t say ‘darn’ but this blog is rated ‘G’) and statistics.”  Well, the stats are in for the City’s 2013 Weed Abatement Program and we are not lying; they’re quite an improvement from last year.

In 2013, Code Enforcement Officers investigated 440 properties for violation of the City’s Noxious Weed Ordinance.  Of these, 311 property owners/occupants complied with the Violation Notices and cut their grass.  This left 139 properties to be cut by City contractors.  The rate of compliance was over 70%.  In 2012, the rate was 59% with 225 sites complying out of 378 cited.  This resulted in 153 locations having to be cut.

One interesting fact arose while reviewing this year’s statistics.  Of the 139 properties cut by City contractors, 83 of the parcels cut (some multiple times) were owned by individuals or entities that did not reside in Auburn Hills.  These included absentee landlords, banks, mortgage companies, and governmental agencies.  This is over half (59%) of the properties cut.

The bottom line is this: the vast majority of property owners in Auburn Hills maintain their properties on a regular basis.  At times some residents need to be reminded of their responsibilities and, again, the vast majority of them respond with compliance.  This illustrates the pride and good citizenship of the average Auburn Hills’ resident.

After all, the statistics don’t lie.

Grass_The-grass-30825840-1280-1024

Statistics Don’t Lie

Grand Opening of New Biggby Coffee

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Executive Assistant

Auburn Hills is pleased to announce the opening of a brand new Biggby coffee shop at 4211 Joslyn Road.   Proud owner, Rabia Malik is excited to welcome the community to her Grand Opening tomorrow morning, November 23rd at 10:00am.

owner

Rabia, a friendly, busy mother of three, has a strong background in business and holds a degree in accounting.  She openly expresses her gratitude for the support of Biggby, her family and her parents in this exciting endeavor; her first business.  “It is because of them I am here today” she says.  She chose the growing, Michigan-based Biggby franchise because of her love of coffee and community involvement.

Bigby exterior

Conveniently located with easy access from the North and South on Joslyn, this new Biggby has free Wi-Fi, a drive-thru, specialty lattes, smoothies and tea. Store hours are Monday through Friday 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday 7 a.m.-9 p.m.  Stop by for a treat and wish them well!

The Blue Dot Marks The Spot!
The Blue Dot Marks The Spot!
Grand Opening of New Biggby Coffee

Shawn Keenan: Worthy of Recognition

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

When people talk about Water Resources Coordinator Shawn Keenan you often hear him described with the words: integrity, smart, dependable, and friend.

Shawn Keenan
Shawn Keenan

That’s why it was wonderful to see him honored this past Monday by City Manager Pete Auger and the City Council as a finalist for the 2013 Auburn Hills’ Employee of the Year.  Although he did not win the award (that will be announced by Pete soon), he’s very worthy of recognition.  Shawn was the Community Development Department’s unanimous nomination for the award.

As a little background, Shawn has been a true Champion in promoting water quality and his work has given Auburn Hills a reputation as a leader in Michigan.  He serves on numerous professional boards, most notably with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, in which he’s considered an expert in his field.  The State of Michigan loves Shawn so much that they call him first when they have extra trout to distribute, which benefits Auburn Hills and the Clinton River greatly.

Shawn has worked with City staff and various groups to help create numerous memorable Auburn Hills’ events such as the Fishing Derby, Clinton River Water Festival, Paddlepalooza, and the BBQ Cook-off at Summerfest.

What’s really cool about Shawn is that he’s always trying to improve himself.  Two years ago, he decided that he wanted to take his skills to the next level.  After months and months of study and self-improvement, Shawn became a professional city planner by obtaining his national certification.

The Planning Commission celebrating Shawn Keenan obtaining national planner certification
The Planning Commission celebrating Shawn Keenan obtaining national planner certification

In his nomination, one of his colleagues wrote … “From the day I met Shawn Keenan, he has been one of my very favorite co-workers.  He’s smart, cheerful, calm, professional, funny, easy to talk to, and is always willing to lend a hand.   I can bounce ideas around with him and he always adds value to the things we work on.  He’s an amazing team-player and always offers relevant advice or ideas.  He’s also an incredible barbecue chef!   Every team needs a Shawn!”

Yes, every team “needs a Shawn.”  I feel lucky to have him on our team.  I’m not the only one, we all feel that way.  Congrats Shawn!

Shawn Keenan: Worthy of Recognition

Public Hearing Scheduled for New Driveway on Alberta for Retail Center

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

A few months ago we talked about how motorists often get confused about where to turn into the shopping centers on the west side of Baldwin Road, across from Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in our blog – Too Much Turing on Alberta.

Many people mistakenly turn onto Alberta looking to shop or eat.  With no way to enter the retail parking lots, these motorists use Alberta homeowner’s driveways to turn around and go back to Baldwin Road.  This problem has become worse in recent years with the re-birth of the former La-Z-Boy store into The Shoppes at Baldwin Square retail center.  As a result, many residents along Alberta have addressed the situation by placing buckets and chains in their driveways to block motorists from using their property to turn around.

If built, the new drive to the south off of Alberta is expected to be located here.
If built, the new drive to the south off of Alberta is expected to be located here.

In August, the Planning Commission authorized City staff to proceed with facilitating a new driveway for The Shoppes at Baldwin Square (south side) to Alberta.  However, after receiving a courtesy notice of this plan of action some residents expressed concern to City staff over the impact of the proposed change.

Thus, the Planning Commission has decided to schedule a public hearing to review this proposed solution with area residents on Tuesday, December 10th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall.  All interested are encouraged to attend.

Public Hearing Scheduled for New Driveway on Alberta for Retail Center

Doing a Podcast … A First

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Ron Melchert, DPW Director and I were recently interviewed by an auto industry reporter about Auburn Hills’ award-winning EV Ready program.  It was our first podcast.  The experience was kind of like a roller coaster at Cedar Point – both fun and scary at the same time.

Check out the link … http://www.electricvehicleparade.com/blog/2013/11/13/ev-infrastructure-city-of-auburn-hills-aha-moment.html

Recent photo taken of a Ford C-Max charging on Auburn Road in the Dowtown
Recent photo taken of a Ford C-Max charging on Auburn Road in the Dowtown
Doing a Podcast … A First