Who’s Minding The Store?

Posted by – Darren Darge, Code Enforcement Officer

New state-of-the-art LED sign technology is coming down in cost, so it’s becoming a great option for many businesses, churches, and schools to provide current messages to the public that have the ability to change often.  Sometimes a little too often.

The City Council adopted a law to allow these electronic changeable copy signs back in 2004.  It has been amended a few times, most recently on November 10, 2014.  One of the big changes that occurred recently is that message copy shall appear in intervals of no less than 15 seconds. The old standard was a message hold time of 90 seconds.  This law applies to signs along roads within the City.  A different hold time of eight seconds is allowed on digital billboards along I-75 due to the high speed of the vehicles and based on national traffic safety standards.

Example of a LED sign in compliance with the law

Example of a LED sign in compliance with the law

The Council decided to lower the hold time along our roadways after a detailed analysis of standards used by other Michigan municipalities, input from businesses and sign experts, and recommendations from national traffic impact studies.

When City leaders pass zoning laws like this one it’s the role of the Community Development Department and Code Enforcement to confirm that people comply with them.  These signs are controlled by computer by the sign owner.  It’s easy to lower the hold time from 15 seconds, especially if you’re not aware of the City’s standards.

As a courtesy, we sent out letters after the law was amended to the owners of the 15 LED signs that operate in Auburn Hills.  We informed them of the new law and that the signs must maintain a 15 second hold time.

An inspection was recently performed by Code Enforcement and we found that only nine of the 15 signs were in compliance.  So, it’s our role to seek voluntary compliance.  Today, we are well on our away to achieving it.

When laws are passed by our elected officials someone has to make sure these community standards and values are honored.  In the case of these signs, someone is watching.  That’s our role and we work hard to serve the City in a fair and even-handed way.  It’s our job to “mind the store.”

Planning Commission To Begin New Study for NE Corner Neighborhood

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

It’s been almost 15 years.  Wow, time has really flown by.

Back in July 2000, a planning process for the Northeast Corner Neighborhood was initiated by the City as the result of the community’s dissatisfaction with the housing density permitted under the zoning standards on the books at that time.

The planning study came off the heals of the approval of the Shimmons Woodgrove Subdivision, generally located south of Shimmons Road and west of Squirrel Road.  Most property owners and City officials felt that the project was too dense for the area.  The site was mass graded and no natural areas were left remaining.

The main concern at the time was that the Northeast Corner Neighborhood was one of the few natural or “rural” areas left in the City and that the atmosphere of the area would be destroyed if the City did not alter its existing land use policy.  As a result, the Planning Commission held a series of workshops to review what the community wanted the area to look like in the future.  Property owners were encouraged to express their opinions throughout the planning process.

In the end, it was clear to the Planning Commission that the majority of those involved in the process wanted the housing density lowered to preserve the neighborhood’s open space and natural features.  In April 2001, the Planning Commission adopted a new master plan which accomplished those goals.  Soon after the majority of the property in the neighborhood was rezoned to implement the new policy.

The Northeast Corner Neighborhood is the area bounded to the north by Dutton Road, south by Walton Boulevard, west by M-24, and east by the City of Rochester Hills border.

The Northeast Corner Neighborhood is the area bounded to the north by Dutton Road, south by Walton Boulevard, west by M-24, and east by the City of Rochester Hills border.

The neighborhood study and zoning were reviewed in 2007, but no changes were made. Now, it’s time to study the neighborhood again.  We expect some tweaks will be needed to the existing plan based on anticipated development pressures and planned road improvements.  The Commission plans to review potential changes to the 2001 policy with property owners in the neighborhood – and receive comments – in a very open and transparent manner.

Stay tuned for an announcement of a neighborhood meeting to be held in late March or early April.  We encourage all who are interested to attend and be a part of the process.

DURA Automotive Systems Is Shifting Us Into The Future

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

The company began 100 years ago in Toledo, Ohio as the primary supplier for the Milburn Light Electric vehicle.  Today, DURA Automotive Systems is a major player in the global automotive industry.  Their parts and systems can be found in over 300 vehicle models on the road today.

DURA’s world headquarters is based at 1780 Pond Run in the City of Auburn Hills.  We recently visited with them and learned that they employ 235 people here at their 78,000 sq. ft. hub of innovation.  It’s noted that DURA is a very large automotive supplier that consists of more than 12,000 people in 35 manufacturing operations in 15 countries worldwide.

Some of their state-of-the-art products include gear shifters and driver controls, interior and exterior trim features (like LED illumination and electronics integrated into the trim), power sliding door technology, and lightweight aluminum doors and frames.

DURA is best known for their driver control and shifter systems.

DURA is best known for their driver control and shifter systems.

Many cars in the future will have this sliding door technology created by DURA.  It will allow easy "hands free" access to vehicles and reduce a lot car door dents.  It will also be the world's first power sliding door with no exterior guide tracks.  So, it will not only provide great function, it will look attractive.

Many cars in the future will have this sliding door technology created by DURA. It will allow easy “hands free” access to vehicles and reduce a lot car door dents. It will also be the world’s first power sliding door with no exterior guide tracks. So, it will not only provide great function, it will look attractive.

Soon you will be able to unlock and start your car with your cell phone or smart watch thanks to DURA engineers.  You could even text or e-mail your car key to a friend or family member.  Amazing!

Soon you will be able to unlock and start your car with your cell phone or smart watch thanks to DURA engineers. You could even text or e-mail your car key to a friend or family member. Amazing!

It’s pretty cool that many of these technological advances – which get implemented in vehicles around the world – are envisioned, tested, and developed right here in the City of Auburn Hills.

(Editor’s Note:  We’re pleased to report that this story will be our 500th post since the start of the Developing Thoughts blog in February 2012.  We’ll strive to provide many more posts about this extraordinary City into the future.  Thank you for following us … and reading.)

 

A Great Town To Find A Meal

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Many may know that the City of Auburn Hills’ population quintuples in size to well over 100,000 people during the day.  But, most folks don’t really think much about the typical retail support services that follows such explosive growth.  Hey, all these people need to eat!

Luckily for all of us, entrepreneurs are meeting this demand.  Currently, 119 restaurants are located within the 17.5 square miles that make up Auburn Hills … and that number keeps growing.

Max & Erma's Restaurant near Great Lakes Crossing Outlets

Max & Erma’s Restaurant near Great Lakes Crossing Outlets

So, there are lots of dining options here – fast food, sit-down, independent, and chain – which makes our town so desirable to live and work in.

Which is your favorite?  You’ve got a lot to choose from.

Now Enrolling Amazing Little Minds

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer 

My daughter, Sarah, and her husband, Brian, are a typical working couple with long hours and long commutes.  When they needed child care for my grandsons, Connor and Alex, they chose KinderCare in their neighborhood.  On numerous occasions “Pa” (as I’m known by the boys) picked the kids up.  The staff was always cheerful, courteous and one could tell they really loved children.  The boys are now in elementary school but they both fondly remember their time at KinderCare.

exterior

After meeting Kristen Hippe, the Director of Auburn Hills KinderCare and some of the staff, I’m convinced that the same level of excellent care is available here as well.  They are located at 3268 E. Walton Blvd. at Joswick, next door to the Y.M.C.A.  They care for children from six weeks to 12 years old and are open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Kristen Hippe, Director of Auburn Hills KinderCare

Kristen Hippe, Director of Auburn Hills KinderCare

On Tuesday, January 20th, they are having an Open House during their regular hours so that you parents out there can see their facilities, meet their staff and see for yourself the kind of care and teaching that happens at KinderCare.  They are also having free registration if you enroll by February 13th.  If you need more information, feel free to call them at 248-373-7535.

Take it from old “Pa,” KinderCare is a great place for kids.

(If you need another endorsement, Steve Cohen, the Director of the Community Development Department is a happy KinderCare alum.),

Auburn Hills Age Friendly Business Roundtable

Posted by – Maria Willett, Community Planning Assistant

Do you interact with senior residents daily at your place of business?  If so, then Auburn Hills is looking to hear from YOU!  As we continue to look for ways to make the city ideal for residents of all ages, we want to know what changes you have observed as the population gets older. 

IMG_8954

Join the City and other local businesses on January 15 from 2-4 p.m. in the Auburn Hills Public Library to share your thoughts.  As your customers get older, have you seen a change in the services needed?  Does your business make any special accommodations for seniors? 

By working together to identify the upcoming needs of our older residents, we can be proactive in making changes that will make the City of Auburn Hills a better experience for all consumers.  To sign up for this exciting opportunity, please call the Auburn Hills Community Center at 248-370-9353.

City Helps SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium Prepare For Opening

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Executive Assistant

Last Friday morning, final inspections began at SEA LIFE Michigan just one day after the arrival of six sharks from Marathon, Florida.  See the short clip of their arrival by clicking here.

Tests of emergency back-up systems including power, lighting, fire alarms, sprinkler system and strobes were conducted.  The City’s Building Safety and Fire inspectors, SEA LIFE staff and representatives from Great Lakes Crossing Outlets were all in attendance.

mtg 1-9-15

After seeing only a paper copy of the building plans for many months, Mary Cox, our Building Department Clerk and I were invited to the inspection, not only to get a sneak peek at construction progress of this great new attraction … but to serve as “guinea pigs.”  It was our job to find our way through the aquarium during a power-outage test since we had never been there before.  We were happy to report that all paths and exits were easy to navigate in the dark.  Of course in truth, our presence there was mostly to capture a sneak peek!

Outside Signage

New exterior signage for SEA LIFE Michigan can be easily seen from I-75 and the anticipated opening is scheduled for January 29th.  Stay tuned for highlights from the Grand Opening event.