The Bridge to Somewhere

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

During the 2008 presidential election there was a certain amount of controversy regarding a bridge proposed in Alaska that was to receive federal funding.  This bridge became known as “The Bridge to Nowhere.”  Its funding was turned down and it was never built.

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Auburn Hills, on the other hand, knows how to get a bridge done.  Last year, the DPS became aware that Rochester Hills was going to get rid of a small pedestrian bridge that was over the Clinton River at Livernois and Avon.  The city purchased the bridge for a dollar and some additional expense for crane work and transport.  The bridge was then put in place by DPS personnel over a branch of Galloway Creek in Civic Center Park.  The bridge now serves as an easy way to get from the Athletic Field to the park.

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Now that the weather is (hopefully) improving, a short stroll in the park could be on your list.  Take the path behind the Community Center and soon you’ll come across Auburn Hills’ very own “Bridge to Somewhere.”  Another job well done by our DPW and a great example of thinking outside the box by Auburn Hills leaders.

The Bridge to Somewhere

Partnerships that Make a Difference

Posted by – Laurie Renaud, Economic Development Coordinator

The International Economic Development Council held their Federal Economic Development Forum in the Washington DC metro area this past week.  I had the privilege to attend the conference on behalf of the City of Auburn Hills.

Attendees from all over the United States were there to hear and take part in discussions on workforce development, advanced manufacturing innovations, and exporting efforts.  We came together as partners to discuss these issues with policymakers from the Federal Government, Universities, and Economic Development Agencies to address ways to improve efforts on a national level.

Photo taken at one of the conference sessions
Photo taken at one of the conference sessions

There were many accomplishments that put forward good examples and many great ideas to put into action for the subjects that were covered during this forum.  It was a learning experience for all that took part.

Workforce development includes many areas. We not only want the STEM (Science, Technologies, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields to grow, but also the soft skills set to grow to complete the manufacturing cycle. We need the research and development, but also need to have the workforce that can put the product to market on the manufacturing side. We need to invest in education on all levels.

One of the goals on the advanced manufacturing side is to change the perception of manufacturing careers. These jobs are not what some picture of dirty factories that are not well lit. Today’s manufacturing jobs are clean, robotic-infused jobs that offer great paying careers for those that may not want to attend a four year college. The skill set is definitely different from the past manufacturing job set. We need to let parents, teachers, and students understand the potential of these careers as a great choice for high paying jobs.

The idea of exporting can be ominous, but there is aid to help businesses maneuver through the system no matter what country fits their exporting needs. For those that aren’t sure of what market potential is best for their product, there is also help offered through our U.S. Export offices to access the data.  The benefit of exporting isn’t just going out, but the statistics of benefits created in the U.S. when a company exports is 20-1.  The research and development is usually done in the U.S. and the wages of a multi-national company paid in the U.S. are higher according to various experts.

The City of Auburn Hills is very active in making connections and breaking down barriers to help businesses succeed.  This forum was excellent as it outlined our role in working together with the nation’s economic developers, universities, and policymakers to assist business growth through a trained workforce, advanced manufacturing innovation, and exporting business.  As a result, this collective mindset will only make America’s economy stronger and create jobs.

Partnerships that Make a Difference

Oil and Gas Well Ordinance Set For April 10th Public Hearing

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

The Auburn Hills Planning Commission has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, April 10th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber to review a new ordinance regulating oil and gas wells.

The topic became a very important matter for our community this past November when an oil and gas exploration company began to show interest in setting up a drilling operation on residential property in the northeast corner of the City.

Photo of an oil and gas well we visited on the campus of Schoolcraft College in Livonia
Photo of an oil and gas well we visited on the campus of Schoolcraft College in Livonia

Although gas and oil drilling is heavily regulated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the City of Auburn Hills has determined that it also has the right to oversee this activity through its Zoning Ordinance.  The Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, which specifically states that counties and townships do not have the authority to regulate oil and gas wells; does not mention cities or villages.  Because cities and villages are not specifically addressed in the Act, it has been determined by our City Attorney that cities and villages have some limited ability to regulate such operations.

With that in mind, a new City ordinance has been drafted for review by the Planning Commission and final acceptance by the City Council, which meets two primary criteria required by State law.  Our new ordinance: 1) may not be in direct conflict with State and Federal law; and 2) may not be “exclusionary.”  Exclusionary means that the City’s Zoning Ordinance can not prohibit drilling within the City.  It has to be allowed in appropriate areas.

Thus, the proposed ordinance addresses many of the concerns raised in recent months.  Such as the following:

  • Expressly prohibiting hydraulic fracturing and/or “fracking” within the City.
  • Permitting oil and gas wells only on industrially zoned property (e.g., I-1, I-2, and I-3 districts).  It’s noted that horizontal drilling under residential property from an industrial site can’t be regulated by the City and is authorized per State and Federal law, if proper leases and permits are acquired by the exploration company.
  • Requiring the drilling site for the well to have a significant setback from homes, schools, religious institutions, child care facilities, and hospitals.
  • Outlining standards which address potential nuisance concerns such as noise, dust, odor, truck traffic, etc.

We believe the methodological and comprehensive approach that Auburn Hills has taken to study this issue, become educated on the topic, and resolve concerns raised will be a positive example for other Michigan cities and villages to follow.

The good news with this story is that the oil and gas exploration company mentioned earlier has formally agreed in writing not to drill on residential land and will abide by the proposed ordinance, which creates a “win-win” solution for all.

Oil and Gas Well Ordinance Set For April 10th Public Hearing

Meeting Tonight! Help Us Create a Better Auburn Hills

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Come tonight and help us define and design a better community!

You’re invited to join the discussion at R. Grant Graham Elementary School, at 2450 Old Salem Road, about the types of housing, transportation options, and events and programs that could be offered now and the years to come.   Come tell us about your experiences and ideas for improving Auburn Hills.  The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.

Photo taken at the February 27th meeting at the Great Lakes Golf and Sports Complex
Photo taken at the February 27th meeting at the Great Lakes Golf and Sports Complex
Photo taken at the March 4th meeting at the Auburn Hills Christian Center
Photo taken at the March 4th meeting at the Auburn Hills Christian Center

Below are some of the “Rockstar” ideas we’ve heard at the previous two meetings:

  • Establish a public transportation system for both old and young people with routes going down main streets in a circuit.
  • Add a community garden near the Walton Boulevard neighborhoods.
  • Assist me with overcoming the fear of technology (e.g., cellphones and internet).
  • Add more exercise equipment at the Community Center.
  • Need help getting my trash cans from the garage to the street.
  • Add sidewalks in residential subdivisions and main streets.
  • Add a pathway from Joslyn Road to Great Lakes Crossing Outlets.
  • Provide more convenient transportation with routine schedules and routes.
  • Install street and traffic lights at half-way points in major streets for safety.
  • Create events that encourage me to invite my friends to attend as a group.
  • Add a gondola transportation system to main destinations.
  • Allow mother-in-law cottages or separate living spaces on the same property.

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Meeting Tonight! Help Us Create a Better Auburn Hills

City Council Set To Review BorgWarner Expansion

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Fortune 500 company BorgWarner, known globally for transmissions and turbochargers, announced plans today to proceed with an estimated $9.4 million investment at their Powertrain Technical Center (PTC) located at 3800 Automation Avenue.  This expansion comes on the heels of the construction of their new $1.6 million high-tech garage, which opened last month.

The proposed 46,555 sq. ft., three-story office addition will increase the mammoth PTC to 237,231 sq. ft. in size.  Construction is anticipated to begin by June with completion projected sometime in Spring 2015.  BorgWarner intends to hire up to 200 additional people, which will bring their total employee count to just under 700 at this site.  The company’s world headquarters is also located in Auburn Hills at 3850 W. Hamlin Road.

Bird's Eye View Rendering of BorgWarner's Building Expansion
Bird’s Eye View Rendering of BorgWarner’s Building Expansion

A final decision on BorgWarner’s site plan for the proposed expansion is expected to be made by the City Council on Monday, April 7th.

 

City Council Set To Review BorgWarner Expansion

Fata Automation Has Solutions

Posted by – Laurie Renaud, Economic Development Coordinator

“Do You Remember Where We Parked the Car?” 

How many times have you parked your car in a crowded lot and forgotten where you parked when you came out?  Good thing key fobs have alarms.  Okay, so don’t admit to finding your car that way at least once.  As a woman walking around a dark garage is not one of my favorite things to do, nor is parallel parking.  There is a solution for all of these circumstances.

Fata Automation is located at 2333 E. Walton Boulevard
Fata Automation is located at 2333 E. Walton Boulevard

We have a fantastic company in Auburn Hills named Fata Automation, located at 2333 E. Walton Boulevard, which has a cure for never losing your car in a parking lot or garage or having to feel uneasy about walking around a dark dingy parking garage again.  No more losing time searching for a space.  Fata Automation makes automated parking systems like the one shown in this video below.

Fata Automation is a 70+ year business headquartered right here in Auburn Hills.  Their Auburn Hills facility houses 40 people conducting engineering, design, and development with very light assembly.  They employ over 100 people world-wide, with other locations in Italy, Mexico, and Brazil.

Automation and casting are two functions of Fata.  Building assembly lines, casting and sand regeneration technology to rebuild engine plants is what Fata Automation is known for in the automotive industry.

If you have automation or casting needs, please look to Fata for your solutions.  Check out their website at http://www.fatainc.com/.

Fata Automation Has Solutions

Think Spring Cleaning

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

Finally!  Spring is here and it’s the time of year when we all get that urge to spruce up the house and clean out the garage.  It’s during this annual springtime event when one finds that old container of pesticide, drain cleaner, paint thinner or cleaning product tucked under the sink; that old TV, computer or VCR stashed in the basement; or other household hazardous waste you might find in the garage like vehicle fluids or empty propane tanks (30lbs or less).  This is often the time when the question pops up “Where can I dispose of this stuff?”

chemicals

Well, if you’re an Auburn Hills resident raising this question, you’re in luck.  On Saturday, May 17th the City is holding its Annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection and Electronic Recycling Day.  The collection takes place between the hours of 9AM to 2PM at the Auburn Hills Department of Public Works garage located at 1500 Brown Road.  Don’t worry about the cost because it’s FREE.  All you need to do is bring proof of residency.

The City offers this service to help assure these items are properly disposed of and do not end up in the river by way of a nearby storm drain.

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Please note there are materials the City does not accept, which include commercially generated waste, radioactive waste, explosives, ammunition, shock sensitive materials, industrial compressed gas cylinders, and medical waste.

Think Spring Cleaning