The Palace Of Auburn Hills Arena Property Proposed For Rezoning

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

We’re very pleased to report that the City of Auburn Hills, in cooperation with Palace Sports & Entertainment (PS&E), has initiated a rezoning application to prepare the 109 acre arena property for redevelopment should it no longer remain viable as a sports and entertainment venue in the years ahead.

The Palace of Auburn Hills

The land currently has two separate and distinct zoning districts.  The property on which the Pistons practice facility is located is zoned T&R, Technology and Research District and contains approximately six acres; while the property on which the arena sits is zoned I-2, General Industrial District and contains approximately 103 acres.  The City and PS&E have agreed that the T&R zoning is best suited for the entire property.  The T&R zoning classification is also being presented for amendment to permit the arena to remain as an allowable use in the T&R district should that be the final outcome for the site.

The recommendation of the T&R zoning came as a result of a detailed planning analysis called The Palace of Auburn Hills Arena Redevelopment Study, which was conducted by City staff and authorized by the City Council.  The study and proposed zoning change will set the stage for a quick and streamlined review process for new development at the site, if use of the arena is ultimately discontinued.

Scenario A: City’s “wish list” for the redevelopment of the site. Create a walkable, interconnected R&D park with uses such as corporate HQ locations, hotel/conference center, and fitness center

Scenario B: Facilitating redevelopment of the site with several large scale R&D/clean industrial businesses. This option would be immediately supported by the real estate market and is a natural fit for Auburn Hills

Auburn Hills’ officials believe this proactive, “redevelopment ready” approach will better position the City and PS&E when working collaboratively with the State of Michigan and Oakland County to attract new companies and investment to the location.

Those interested in learning more about this proposal are encouraged to attend the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Wednesday, June 14th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall.  A final decision on the application is anticipated to be made by the City Council on Monday, June 26th.

Planning For The Future Of Oakland County’s Animal Shelter Property

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

The City of Auburn Hills has been working proactively with Oakland County officials to prepare for the closure of the County’s Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center at 1700 Brown Road.  The animal shelter will be relocated to a new 35,000 square foot facility, currently under construction in the City of Pontiac, sometime later this year.

Current animal shelter at 1700 Brown Road in Auburn Hills

The first step in the redevelopment process of the property is to amend its Master Land Use Plan designation from “public” to “non-residential” to facilitate the future rezoning, sale, and repurposing of the land.

The City Council authorized the Planning Commission’s draft plan to amend the land use classification for both 1500 Brown (City DPW Facility) and 1700 Brown Road this past Monday.  The Council’s action will allow the proposed change to be distributed to adjacent governmental agencies, utilities, and Oakland County for review and comment as required per State law.  The plan amendment is consistent with the land use classifications of surrounding properties in both the City of Auburn Hills and Orion Charter Township.

Proposed change to the Master Land Use Plan

Upon completion of their due diligence in the months ahead, Oakland County officials anticipate that they will sell their 40 acre parcel to allow it to be potentially redeveloped into one or more industrial building sites.  Auburn Hills has no plans to sell or relocate its DPW facility at this time.

The Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing to formally adopt the plan amendment for Wednesday, July 12th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall.

Gardeners Brave Chilly Weather At Perennial Exchange Event

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Community Development Executive Assistant

The unseasonably cool weather last Saturday did not deter dedicated gardeners from gathering in River Woods Park for the Auburn Hills Perennial Exchange.  Auburn Hills residents and neighbors from 18 surrounding communities took part in the event, hosted by the Beautification Advisory Commission (BAC).

The exchange offers an economical way to add variety and color to a garden and it’s a great way to pick up gardening tips and tricks.

The BAC welcomed many familiar faces – and some cute new little ones – to the Exchange this year

Beautification Advisory Commission (left to right) Karen Lewis; City Councilman, Bob Kittle; BAC Secretary, Carla Withers and BAC Vice Chair, Pattie Ormsbee

If you weren’t able to attend this year, we welcome you to stop by next Spring.  Details of City events can always be found on www.auburnhills.org.

Water Festival Fun

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

On Friday, our staff attended one of my absolute favorite events at Oakland University – The 11th Annual Clinton River Water Festival.  Partners including, Waste Management, the Water Resources Commissioner’s Office, and the Clinton River Watershed Council come together to provide a full-day of activities for students.

The Festival is an educational and enjoyable learning experience for over 1,200 fifth-grade students from the Clinton River Watershed community schools in Oakland County.  As the conversations continue to revolve around sustainability and conservation, it’s important to recognize and get involved in programs like this.  Our very own Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner, was instrumental is starting this event at OU back in 2007— that’s something we are very proud of as a city.

The festival design allows students to learn about the central role water and the Clinton River play within the region. Some of the topics explored during the festival include storm water, waste water treatment, soil erosion, wetlands, creeks and streams, habitat, as well as sources of pollution.

The theme of the day is Celebrating water!

Quick Start For “One Stop Ready” Hutchinson HQ Project

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

The City of Auburn Hills has been working closely with General Development Company to help facilitate their construction of Hutchinson’s new 60,502 square foot corporate office building on property located west of Cross Creek Parkway, south of University Drive.  The smooth start for the $8 million project is a testament to both the City’s intense focus on customer service and the developer’s expertise in construction.

Tree clearing is underway on the Hutchinson HQ project

Staff began review of the project’s site plan in late March and the City Council authorized construction on April 24th.  Tree clearing began in early May and will soon be complete.  Mass grading of the site is scheduled for next week and the erection of steel is anticipated to begin in August.  This pace is crazy fast and efficient when benchmarked against other municipalities across the nation, which is a source of pride for both our community and Oakland County.

The property is situated within the Oakland Technology Park, just south of the Delphi building.

Auburn Hills is part of Oakland County’s One Stop Ready Program, which is a proactive initiative aimed at streamlining the development approval processes in communities throughout the County.  The program was created after the Great Recession in an effort to better recruit and retain businesses, which in return brings more jobs and a stronger tax base.  This project is an excellent real world example of the program in action as it kept over 200 jobs in our town.

General Development Company anticipates the building will be ready for occupancy by June 2018.  We will be sure to report back with updates as construction progresses.

Working To Address The Nuisance Of Tall Grass

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

Due to this year’s wet Spring, the lawns throughout Auburn Hills are growing, pardon the expression, like weeds.  It’s also the time – May 1st through October 15th to be exact – that the City’s Weed Abatement Program is in effect.

Ordinance 78-28 declares grass on residential lawns longer than eight inches to be a nuisance and gives the City the authority to trim it.  The process used is to affix a green grass violation sticker on the door of the residence in question advising the occupant that the grass must be cut within 72 hours.  For vacant lots, a notice is mailed giving 10 days to comply.  This is due to the delivery time of snail mail.  These notices are only issued once a year at a particular location.

Generally, the residents or owners cut the grass within the time allotted.  Last year the compliance rate was about 75%.  However, if the grass doesn’t get cut, the location is placed on a list and given to our City contractor for cutting.

Most of the violations are observed by Code Enforcement Officers during their daily rounds through the neighborhoods.  However, many come from complaints by citizens.  If you see an unkempt lawn over eight inches in length, please feel free to call Code Enforcement at 248-364-6934 and let us know.

One Size Does Not Necessarily Fit All

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Community Development Executive Assistant

The City understands that sometimes an exception to the rule is warranted and necessary.  Zoning rules that fit the vast majority of properties may leave a few folks struggling with a less-than-ideal situation due to the unique conditions related to their property.  The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) reviews requests for variances and determines whether or not to grant such exceptions.  Knowing when and how to grant variances requires a bit of training.

ZBA Training Session led by City Attorney Derk Beckerleg

The ZBA is authorized by State law to grant such variances when the strict or literal application of the Zoning Ordinance would cause a “practical difficulty” for the applicant.  Last night, City Attorney Derk Beckerleg met with our ZBA members to review the responsibilities, procedures, and legalities involved with serving in this capacity.  The Board must ensure that the spirit of the Zoning Ordinance is observed, public safety is secured, and substantial justice is done.  Easy right?  No, not really.

Our five ZBA members are Trina Burrell, Chairperson; Henry Knight, City Council Liaison; Greg Ouellette, Planning Commission Liaison; Jay Boelter and James Buster.

We’re grateful for their time and dedication to the City of Auburn Hills.