Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development
Almost one week ago, our community gathered to say goodbye to Steve Lehoczky. Sadly, he passed away on September 1st at the age of 71.
Steve made a lasting impact as a husband, father, grandfather, and provider. During his career, he faithfully served as our municipal planning consultant for almost 30 years.
Time has passed since Steve’s retirement in 1999 and many are unaware of the legacy he left, but we see it every day. His contribution has helped make the City of Auburn Hills the success story that it is today.
For example, Steve Lehoczky recommended and created our unique Master Land Use Plan. It still works for us, but oddly no other municipality uses the same format. It was an “outside the box” idea which fit us like a glove and has stood the test of time. His plan allowed our leaders to quickly adapt to changing trends by dividing the community into three simple flexible classifications. This adaptable plan made the City an attractive place to do business and helped us secure numerous companies, most notably Chrysler.
Recreation Director Brian Marzolf recently told me that one of Steve’s favorite quotes was from Daniel Burnham, a Chicago architect that goes …
“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.
Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.
Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”
Brian explained to me that these words inspired Steve. That Steve’s legacy continues to inspire him to work on new “big” plans like an outdoor amphitheatre, a plaza Downtown, and the Riverwalk project. Brian joked that Steve would often advise him that as we make these “big” plans, we must also keep in mind something that a fellow classmate of his at Michigan State University wrote next to that Burnham quote above a classroom door which said … “but remember the cost!” Wise advice that we still live by as we try to make big plans become a reality for Auburn Hills.
As a team, we see Steve’s legacy every time we read the City’s Zoning Ordinance, review past meeting minutes, drive the streets, and see kids play in the parks. Steve’s hand was in the planning and implementation of all these things and so much more. He created a solid foundation for us and we’re grateful.
So, rest in peace, Steve. You’re service and contribution to this community will never be forgotten. God bless you and your family.