Going Taller, Getting Smarter

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Auburn Hills refuses to rest on its laurels.  Always looking for ways to get better and stay competitive on the national and world-wide stage.  Being proactive and nimble are some of the critical DNA which form our town’s genetic code.

So, what did we do when trusted advisors warned us that potential investment, jobs, and tax revenue could “pass on” our community because our industrial building height standards were too restrictive?  We listened!

What did we learn?  We found that companies which manufacture and warehouse materials are changing to adapt to 21st century demands for modern equipment and improved efficiencies.  The term “clear height” was the key.  Clear height is the dimension between the floor and the bottom of any device hanging from the ceiling – such as roof supports, heaters, light fixtures, indoor cranes, or sprinkler heads.  We were advised that the City’s 40-foot building height limitation was becoming an obstacle for further growth.  That’s a problem – when you stop growing, you start dying.

The amount of space a community allows between the floor and ceiling makes a big difference when a company is deciding where to invest millions of dollars.  The taller the height, the more efficient the building.

The amount of space a community allows between the floor and ceiling makes a big difference when a company is deciding where to invest millions of dollars. The taller the height, the more efficient the building.

Therefore, after considerable study by the Planning Commission, the City Council recently decided to amend its zoning laws by making the following changes:

  • Increased the building height, allowed by right, in all industrial districts from 40 to 50 feet.  Practically speaking, when you stop and look at an industrial building from the roadway, you would see very little difference between a 40-foot and 50-foot structure.
  • Allow, via a special permit, taller building heights up to 65 feet in targeted industrial areas that are designed for such use and isolated from populated residential areas.

Yes, zoning changes are not exciting and this policy revision did not make the local news; but, it was a very smart and timely move.  We just heard this morning that a company plans to build one of these taller buildings right away.  It’s now a “go” project, which will bring new investment dollars and jobs to the City of Auburn Hills because we listened and kept an open mind.

No doubt, being proactive and nimble has its rewards.

One thought on “Going Taller, Getting Smarter

  1. I really enjoy posts like this because, otherwise, not many would know about these crucial decisions. The headlines are typically reserved for when a company moves into the city, not when the groundwork is laid for them to do so.

Comments are closed.