Clinton River Clean-Up This Saturday

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

It’s not too late to sign-up!  We encourage all who are interested to participate in this year’s Clinton River clean-up.  The event will be held this Saturday, September 20th from 9:00 a.m. to noon at River Woods Park.

Volunteers clearing a log jam in the Clinton River

Volunteers clearing a log jam in the Clinton River

The purpose of the event is to preserve and protect our river.  It’s an excellent opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to work together to make the City better.

So, meet us at River Woods Park at 8:30 a.m. to register.  Wear work clothes, sturdy shoes, and bring a pair of gloves.

For additional information please give us a call at 248-364-6926.  Advanced notice of your participation is appreciated, but not required.

Hope to see you there!

Drilling Down On A Difficult Issue

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Whew.  It’s done.

Congrats to the Auburn Hills City Council for setting the gold standard for addressing oil and gas exploration in Michigan.  Last week, they put the finishing touches on an innovative law that protects residential property, while navigating the muddy waters involved with asserting its regulatory authority.

This topic became a very important matter for our community back in November 2013 when West Bay Exploration began to show interest in setting up a drilling operation at The Apostolic Church in the northeast corner of the City.   The proposal was out of left field.  No one could have ever envisioned that a drilling rig could set up shop so close to homes, but State law appeared to clearly allow it.  Yikes!

Typical temporary drilling rig used to create an oil and gas well

Typical temporary drilling rig used to create an oil and gas well

Subsequently, a large number of people attended a series of Council meetings to express their concerns with the industrial nature of the land use and the potential negative impacts such operations could have on their neighborhood.  People were rightfully upset.  However, the Council did the right thing.  They reviewed the issue in a methodical and transparent manner with the assistance of the Planning Commission and City staff.  The Council was very fair and thorough in their deliberations.  The interests of both West Bay Exploration and City residents were honored and respected.

In a nut shell, the new ordinance addresses the following:

  • Requires a City permit to drill an oil and gas well.
  • Permits wells only on industrially zoned property.
  • Expressly prohibits hydraulic fracturing and/or “fracking” within the City.
  • Requires wells to have a significant setback from homes, schools, religious institutions, child care facilities, and hospitals.
  • Outlines standards which address potential nuisance concerns such as noise, dust, odor, truck traffic, etc.
  • Requires restitution if the City responds to an emergency or incident involving a well which was the result of negligence or a violation of law.

This difficult and complicated process was handled the right way by our community, which produced a “win-win” solution for all.  It’s something we should celebrate and be very proud of.

Calling All Movie Stars!

Posted by – Maria Willett, Age-Friendly Community Planning Assistant

Wanna be famous?

The City is looking for some seniors to star in a series of Age-Friendly Auburn Hills videos, which will be filmed over next the few months.  We invite all those willing to share their thoughts and opinions about Auburn Hills to “play a role” in making the City better.  As our population continues to age, we’re striving to be proactive in an effort to make it easier for people of all ages to live, work, and play in our community.  So, we want to hear and learn from you!

Focus Group Dates:

  • Monday, September 29th – 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • Friday, October 3rd – 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.

    We encourage you to participate in a focus group interview.  It will be fun!

    We encourage you to participate in a focus group interview. It will be fun!

Participants will enjoy light refreshments, meet others, and of course be featured in our upcoming YouTube videos about the City’s efforts to become an age-friendly community.  If you’re interested (or know someone who would be interested) in participating in these focus groups please call the Community Center at 248-370-9353.

Japan-Based HIROTEC AMERICA Breaks Ground on New Headquarters

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Construction is underway on the new 213,979 sq. ft. headquarters for the Americas for HIROTEC AMERICA (formerly TESCO Engineering) in the Oakland Technology Park.  The $22.8 million facility is anticipated to be complete by August 2015.

The site is located on the south side of the corner of Cross Creek Parkway and High Meadow Circle

The site is located on the south side of the corner of Cross Creek Parkway and High Meadow Circle

HIROTEC AMERICA designs and manufactures assembly lines used to make doors, hoods, and other body panels for automobile manufacturers around the world, including GM, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, and BMW, among others.  The business is part of a larger group of companies that are collectively owned by Japan’s HIROTEC Corporation.

The company first came to our town in 1992 when they built their current facility located at 4567 Glenmeade Lane, which is now 170,000 sq. ft. in size.  They plan to keep both buildings operating and will float around 450 people (conservative number) between the two locations.

Rendering of the proposed building

Rendering of the proposed building

HIROTEC AMERICA could have located their headquarters anywhere in Southeast Michigan, so their decision to remain and expand in Auburn Hills is great news for our community.

RSC Soccer Fields Are Taking Shape

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

As an update, the outdoor soccer complex being constructed for the Rochester Soccer Club (RSC) south of Dutton Road, east of Bald Mountain Road is moving along according to schedule.

RSC is building four practice fields in Auburn Hills

RSC is building four practice fields in Auburn Hills

People often ask us when it will open, so we contacted the club to confirm their construction timeline.  Since turf grass for soccer fields must be designed to handle heavy use and abuse, it actually takes two growing seasons before the fields can be used for practices.  The grass was planted in Fall 2013, so they’ll have to wait one more year.

The club will make a final determination after this winter, but they’re hopeful the fields will be ready by Summer 2015.


Three Years In The Making

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Yesterday, the City of Auburn Hills was invited to participate in a legislative policy briefing in Lansing designed to inform State officials on how Michigan could better support advanced powertrain systems and “clean” fuels for vehicles.  DPW Director Ron Melchert was asked to take part in an expert panel discussion and Q&A.  Ron did a fine job and made us proud by explaining the City’s experiences and why Auburn Hills has taken the proactive approach to raise awareness and support this emerging technology.

Ron Melchert (2nd from the right) speaking at the Michigan Fuel Forward Policy Briefing and Panel Discussion

Ron Melchert (2nd from the right) speaking at the Michigan Fuel Forward Policy Briefing and Panel Discussion

Why should we care?  Although protecting the environment and natural security are very good reasons to support the use of alternative fuels such as electricity (battery), propane, and compressed natural gas … the key motivation for the City has been economics.

The City of Auburn Hills is in the heart of Michigan’s automotive hub and we’ve seen first hand how corporations will focus their R&D dollars, job creation, and vehicle deployments in areas of the country that are supportive of this technology.  Our State’s policies offer little incentive or support, so these companies must make decisions that make financial sense for them and often go elsewhere.  In 2011, the Auburn Hills City Council decided that they didn’t want to rest on their laurels and wait for other areas of the country, such as California, Washington, and Texas, to capture this investment.  Someone had to lead, so we did.  Now, it’s time for State policy makers to do their part.

So after much effort by various interests, it appears that the pump has been primed.  State Senator Mike Kowall and House Representative Gretchen Driskell have answered the call and have committed to sponsoring bi-partisan legislation in the near future.  That’s why we were in Lansing.  In advance of the bill’s introduction, the Economic Development Committee chaired by Senator Kowall held a hearing to discuss the topic.  The City of Auburn Hills was invited, along with our partners at the Clean Energy Coalition, to take part in an educational briefing before the hearing.  Kind of like a pre-game show before a football telecast.

The proposed clean fuels legislation involves creating a State program and fund that would support rebates, grants, and loans for individual vehicle purchases and conversions, fleet conversions, infrastructure, R&D, and public-private cost sharing projects.  It would be a wise policy move by our legislative leaders.  If adopted, it would place the State of Michigan on level ground with other regions in the years to come.

OU Student Maria Willett Joins the Age-Friendly Auburn Hills Team

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development and Karen Adcock, Director of Senior Services

We would like to introduce Maria Willett to the community.  Maria has been selected as the City of Auburn Hills’ Age-Friendly Community Planning Assistant and has been working with us for the past month or so.

As a little background, the City is an active member of AARP’s Age-Friendly Communities Network and our team (consisting of the Planning Commission, staff, and volunteers) is in the process of conducting a variety of assessments to analyze the community’s strengths and gaps.  This is being done to provide recommendations to the City Council on ways to make Auburn Hills a place where all generations feel welcome in the years to come.  Maria’s role is to assist the team with a variety of assignments, along with learning about how municipal government works.

Maria Willet

Maria Willet

Maria anticipates graduating from Oakland University with a Master of Public Administration degree in May 2015.  She’s an active member in the community through the Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Committee and Oakland University’s Young Leadership Committee.  At Oakland University, Maria also works in the Department of Alumni Engagement as their Student Outreach Coordinator and runs Leadership OU, a program that educates students on leadership, mentoring, and networking.

This lady is very busy.  When we interviewed Maria, we were impressed with how well she juggles all her commitments and school.  She’s driven to succeed.

Maria’s enthusiasm is also contagious. When we recently asked her how she likes the internship she said, “I’m ecstatic to have this opportunity to make a difference.”

We’re glad to have Maria on our team.  She’s already making a difference!