Methane Gas Investigation Update Scheduled For December 8th

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

The City of Auburn Hills has scheduled an informational meeting on Tuesday, December 8th at 7:00 p.m. at the Robert W. Grusnick Public Safety Building to review the results of the methane gas investigation conducted in the vicinity of Dutton and Bald Mountain Roads.  The meeting will be hosted by the Planning Commission and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

The following is a summary of findings:

  • A public meeting was held on May 12, 2015 to introduce the study.
  • 14 monitoring wells were installed in June 2015.
  • Sampling occurred on 40 days between June and November 2015.
  • The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Action Level is 1.25% (by volume) in soil gas.  Corrective action may be required when readings exceed this level.
  • To date, sampling activities have not identified concentrations of methane above the MDEQ action level.  It should be noted that the presence of methane is common in some soils.
  • Methane was detected in all 40 readings in one monitoring well (MW-1) on the site shown in the map below (Sidwell No. 14-01-100-028), but concentrations never reached the MDEQ action level.
  • Four wells had one-time readings over 0.0%, but concentrations in those samples did not reach the MDEQ action level.
  • Monitoring will continue until February 2016 and may be extended if deemed necessary by the MDEQ.

    Map of 14 methane monitoring well locations

    Map of 14 methane monitoring well locations

All interested persons are encouraged to attend the informational meeting.  A representative from the MDEQ and the City’s environmental consultant are both scheduled to be present to discuss the results of the investigation and answer questions.

The Grass Is The Past

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

Now that we have had our first appreciative snowfall (although, I for one did not appreciate it) it’s time to review the 2015 Weed Abatement Program.  This past summer was very different from previous years in that the amount of properties cut was well under years past.  Last year the City’s contractor cut 99 properties.  This year 76 were abated.

before - no address

Residential properties with grass over 8″ tall receive a violation sticker.  If not cut by the resident / owner within 72 hours, the grass is cut by the City contractor

In May, 130 cases were given notice and 104 owners/residents complied.  This left 15 residential plots to be cut and 11 large vacant (“rough”) cuts were performed.  June had 58 cases with 45 folks complying, nine residential cuts and four rough cuts.  In July the trend continued downward with 32 cases with 9 compliances, eight house cuts and 10 rough.  August had even fewer with 24 cases, 11 complying, six residential cuts and seven vacant lots.  September was very low with only eight cases with three complying.  This left two residential and four vacant lots to cut.  In October – no cases, no cuts.

after - no address


The reduction in cases is undoubtedly due to the major decreases in vacant houses.  In past years, foreclosures left many houses in Auburn Hills without residents.  This naturally led to lawns not being cut until banks could catch up and institute property maintenance.  In addition, I like to think that Auburn Hills residents, new and old, realize what a great City this is and want to do their best to make it the best it can be.  Keep up the good work, folks.

Building Opportunities For Independence

Posted by – Stephanie Carroll, Manager of Business Development & Community Relations

Every now and then, when we visit one of our businesses, I am truly humbled and grateful that such places exist in the Auburn Hills community.  Today, we visited with team members of New Horizons Rehabilitation Services, Inc.

New Horizons banner

Being able to provide opportunities and enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities is the mission of New Horizons Rehabilitation Services, Inc.  This not-for-profit agency provides community based services and programs such as job coaching, community living support, school-to-work transition services and more.  In 2015, New Horizons Employment Specialists helped 639 individuals find gainful employment.   It was wonderful to hear that a few of our Auburn Hills companies partner and collaborate with New Horizons.

As part of our meeting, we got a tour of the facility to see work being done by individuals who visit this facility.  It was wonderful to see people of all ages and abilities working together to accomplish various jobs they are given.

New Horizons is truly an asset to the Auburn Hills community.

Meadowbrook Theatre Celebrates Golden Anniversary

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

Meadowbrook Theatre, an institution nestled in the campus of Oakland University, is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.  A great way to join the celebration would be to attend the production of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” now playing through December 24th.

5o Year

I wrote about the play last year and mentioned that I had seen it a couple of times and it’s amazing.  The production value, the costumes, the acting, the sets, even the special effects are on a par with a Broadway production.  The familiar story of the miserly Scrooge, his clerk, Bob Cratchit (and son, Tiny Tim) plus the appearance of four ghosts add up to exciting and heartfelt family entertainment.

Christmas Carol

Dates, times and ticket prices are available by contacting the theatre at 248-377-3300 or visiting the box office of the theatre at 207 Wilson Hall, Rochester, 48309 on the Oakland University campus.  Tickets are also available through Ticketmaster outlets and on-line.  (Hint, hint…tickets would make an excellent stocking stuffer for Christmas.)


Congratulations and thanks to the Medowbrook Theater Board of Directors, actors, directors and crew of the Meadowbrook Theatre for fifty years of top-notch entertainment.  And as Tiny Tim would say: “God bless us, everyone.”

Returning Home: Orhan Automotive Opens North American HQ

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Executive Assistant

After a few years away, we’re excited to report that Turkey-based Orhan Automotive has moved back to the City of Auburn Hills.  They have fully renovated the building located at 1160 Centre Road, which is now their new North American Headquarters and Technical Center.  It will house their executive, engineering, sales, design and information technology departments.

front facade

This is a great example of a clean industrial operation.  No manufacturing, other than prototyping, takes place in this facility that supports the development of plastic and rubber tubing, fluid transfer systems and engineered assemblies primarily for the automotive industry.  Khalif Alyameni, IT Operations Manager, said they’re happy to be back in Auburn Hills and are setting a course to become industry leaders in fuel fillers and turbo lines.

cubicles new

The company purchased the building last year and began planning for the now-complete building façade addition and interior upgrades. They have created an inviting, modern, light-filled workspace that intentionally reflects the aesthetic of their World Headquarters in Bursa, Turkey.


Interior renovations included the removal and replacement of walls.  Moving walls opened the floor plan and allowed them to reconfigure the work spaces.   They also created a spacious, bright and super-clean shop area.  Energy-efficiency was added throughout the updated facility.  Lastly, the front exterior building façade was completely reconstructed and updated with new windows, fresh paint, new signage, and landscaping.

We’re pleased to welcome Orhan Automotive back to Auburn Hills and wish them much success.

Planning Commission Adopts Master Plan Amendment To Allow 55+ Active Adult Community

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Last night, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the Northeast Corner Neighborhood Master Plan.  The Commission’s decision concludes the lengthy procedure required by Michigan law to amend the plan, which began five months ago.

The change will allow the development of a 55+ active adult community called Villa Montclair (f.k.a., Villa Montage), proposed by Auburn Hills-based Moceri Companies, to proceed on the property located at 3995 N. Squirrel Road.  The rezoning of the property and detailed site plan for the project are both anticipated to be publicly reviewed by the Planning Commission and City Council in January 2016.

Aerial Photo of Site Location and Development Concept Plan for Villa Montclair

Aerial Photo of Site Location and Development Concept Plan for Villa Montclair

The Planning Commission also intends to revisit the master plan for the entire Northeast Corner Neighborhood beginning in January 2016.  Stay tuned for more information.

Should “Tiny Homes” Be Allowed In Auburn Hills?

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

I was mesmerized.  I could not stop watching.

My wife had turned on the HGTV Show Tiny House Hunters and we proceeded to observe a couple inspect three potential new homes for their young family of four.  These homes were very, very small – generally under 600 sq. ft. in size.  Which home would they pick?  The travel trailer, the cute shed on wheels, or the converted shipping container?  We were both shocked when they picked the converted shipping container.  The shed on wheels fit our preferences.

When the episode was over, I promptly asked my wife, “Would you want to live in such a small home?”  She said, “No way, but I can see the appeal.”  

Studies show that there is a segment of the American population (e.g., single parents, empty nesters, college students, and young professionals) that desire to live in a really small home, but do not wish to live in a traditional mobile home or apartment unit.  This market segment is called the Tiny House Movement.   An increasing number of people wish to have less money tied into their living space in order to obtain financial freedom.  For many, the scars of the Great Recession have motivated them to want less “stuff” to weigh them down.

Example of a tiny house on wheels

Example of a tiny house on wheels

There are lots of questions that come out of the Tiny House Movement:

  • Is this a fad?  Are these just high-end mobile homes or travel trailers?
  • Is there a demand for this type of housing in Auburn Hills?  If so, where should they be allowed? 
  • Should Auburn Hills permit tiny homes, often called Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), to be placed on lots with existing single-family homes?  If so, how will that function and aesthetically fit into neighborhoods? 
  • Should Auburn Hills amend its Zoning Ordinance to allow smaller homes on single-family zoned property?  The smallest home size allowed without a basement is 950 sq. ft.  Although, throughout most of our community, zoning requires homes to be 1,200 sq. ft. or larger.
  • Would tiny homes lower the property values of neighboring lots that have larger homes?  It may.
  • Should Auburn Hills allow rental RV parks, cottage communities, or co-ops so that people can temporarily move their tiny homes into the community?  It appears that many of the tiny homes being sold are on wheels and mobility is a motivating factor for buyers. 
  • Should Auburn Hills only permit tiny homes as permanent structures tied to foundations in planned developments?  This concept would allow for affordable “village style” housing for both young professionals and seniors that may prefer a more compact walkable neighborhood with less housing space and property to maintain.

    A community of tiny houses is being proposed in Sonoma County, California. It is designed for one-or two-person households and would function as a village co-op. (Richard Sheppard sketch)

    A community of tiny houses is being proposed in Sonoma County, California. It is designed for one-or two-person households and would function as a village co-op. (Richard Sheppard sketch)

Perhaps now is a good time to start thinking about this issue.  It will be interesting to see if the real estate market demands this type of housing in the future.