Rollin’ With The Changes: August 15th Planning Commission Meeting Cancelled

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Sometimes things happen that are beyond your control and, just as the REO Speedwagon rock anthem wisely exclaims, you “… got to, got to roll with the changes.”

As a little background, the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act requires that notice must be published in a newspaper of general circulation not less than 15 days prior to the date of a public hearing.  Well, due to unforeseen circumstances, that required publication did not occur last week for the Planning Commission’s four public notices.

Since the legally required 15-day notification has not been met, the following four projects will NOT be reviewed by the Planning Commission on August 15th and have been rescheduled for their September 12th meeting:

  1. Autoliv Building and Parking Lot Expansion
  2. Residences at River Trail
  3. Genisys Credit Union – Changeable Copy Sign
  4. Rezoning of Oakland Community College and WMU-Cooley Law School Properties

As a result, the Planning Commission has cancelled their August 15th meeting.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 248-364-6900.

Creating An Age-Friendly Region

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

The City of Auburn Hills was recently invited to give a presentation at Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) on what we have accomplished to help address the needs of the growing senior citizen population in our community.  We had the opportunity to interact with other communities who are just beginning their journey in this area.

My colleague Karen Adcock, Director of Senior Services and I discussed how we are making Auburn Hills more accessible to everyone.  We want to be a city where ALL generations feel welcome.  When you are in the business of delivering services, it’s important to understand how those services change over time as it relates to demographic shifts.  Auburn Hills now has more seniors than school-aged kids in our community.

We outlined our work since joining the AARP’s Age-Friendly Network in 2013.  We talk about community engagement, our action plan, and the initiatives our Planning Commission and City Council are making a high priority for Auburn Hills.

An Age-Freindly Community Conversation

It was great to hear from the experts talk about the role of local government and why it is vital in creating an atmosphere where people can age in place.  We know we have work to do, but we are now in a better position to address this important issue.

City To Rezone Oakland Community College And Cooley Law School Land

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

A key strategic goal of the City Council is to proactively prepare underutilized properties for redevelopment.  This comprehensive rezoning proposal, along with The Palace of Auburn Hills redevelopment study and rezoning and the rezoning of the Oakland County Animal Shelter Property are excellent examples of the City Council, Planning Commission, and staff working together with private landowners to implement that vision.

In recent years, the City has participated in conversations with representatives from Oakland Community College and WMU-Cooley Law School regarding the re-use of their underutilized property located along Featherstone Road.  Due to significant demand for high-tech land in Auburn Hills that could accommodate corporate headquarters and R&D facilities, it was agreed by all parties that it would be prudent to conduct this rezoning.  The rezoning will allow additional land use flexibility in the redevelopment of the property, if so desired by Oakland Community College and WMU-Cooley Law School in the future.  New development would place the underutilized portions of these tax exempt properties on the assessing rolls, which will generate new property tax revenue and jobs.

The vision is to transform the underutilized land like this “sea of parking” along Featherstone Road into an attractive high-tech business park with corporate HQ and technical center buildings, greenspace, and trees

Thus, the City has initiated a rezoning application, as generally described below:

  1. The WMU-Cooley Law School property located at 2630 Featherstone Road (Sidwell No. 14-26-226-004) is proposed to be rezoned from SP, Special Purpose District to T&R, Technology and Research District.
  2. The Oakland Community College property located at 2900 Featherstone Road (Sidwell Nos. 14-26-226-006, 14-26-226-007, 14-25-101-005, and 14-25-101-004) is proposed to be rezoned from SP, Special Purpose District and O, Office District to T&R, Technology and Research District and I-1, Light Industrial District.

Lastly, it is noted that the rezoning will also facilitate the State permitting and construction of a digital billboard sign, previously approved by the City Council in January 2016, on Oakland Community College’s CREST Center property adjacent to M-59.

Mock-up rendering of the billboard sign adjacent to M-59 previously approved by the City Council

Those interested in learning more about this proposal are encouraged to attend the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Wednesday, August 15th Wednesday, September 12th 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, August 27th Monday, September 24th.

Rochester Soccer Club Property Proposed To Be Rezoned

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

An application has been submitted to the City of Auburn Hills by the Rochester Soccer Club (RSC) to rezone their 29.4 acre property located at 3200 Dutton Road from R-1A, One-Family Residential District to T&R, Technology and Research District.

View of the RSC property from Dutton Road

The rezoning proposal is intended to implement the policy recommendations of the Northeast Corner Neighborhood Master Plan (2016).  RSC is contemplating two primary options for the long-term use of their property.  Both options listed below are consistent with the City’s Master Plan, and the T&R zoning district.

Option A:  The property remains as a training complex for RSC.  Over the next 2 to 3 years, RSC intends to explore the viability of adding an indoor practice facility and a lighted outdoor turf field in the future.

Option B:  The property is exchanged and redeveloped for corporate R&D facilities, or other similar land uses permitted under the T&R zoning district.

Please note that the above long-term development options will not be decided at the upcoming meeting and are subject to change.

Aerial photo showing the location of the RSC property

Those interested in learning more about this proposal are encouraged to attend the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Wednesday, June 13th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall.  A final decision on the application is anticipated by the City Council on Monday, June 25th.

Informational Meeting To Be Held On Downtown Road Construction

Posted by – Samantha Seimer, Director of Authorities

The City of Auburn Hills will be holding a public informational meeting regarding the road and utility construction scheduled for Downtown Auburn Hills over the summer.  The meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 27 at 1:00 p.m. at the University Center, which is located at 3350 Auburn Road.

There will be a presentation regarding the improvements, anticipated timelines of completion, and construction phasing.  City representatives and the selected contractor will be available to answer questions at the conclusion of the meeting.

Downtown Auburn Hills

Here are some quick project facts about the project and frequently asked questions:

  1. What is the anticipated timeline for the construction work?  Construction is scheduled to begin the first week of April and be complete by November 2018.
  2. When will the contractors be working?  Construction activities will take place weekdays, weather permitting. Work on weekends may occur and some night work may be required to make connections to the new water main without disrupting normal business operating hours.
  3. Will the road remain open during construction?  Traffic and local access will be maintained throughout the project.  At the least, one lane of traffic will be open along Squirrel Court and Auburn Road.  There are no scheduled road closures.  Additionally, all sidewalks and off-street parking will be open during construction.
  4. How will I be notified of construction activities?  Each week there will be a construction update meeting open to the public and hosted Downtown. Updates will be posted on the City’s website, as well as social media.  Please contact me, Sam Seimer, at 248-364-6806 with any questions or concerns you may have during the project.

All interested are encouraged to attend this informational meeting.

Planning Commission To Review Master Land Use Plan Update

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Have you noticed?  The Auburn Hills Planning Commission is on top of their game.  They’re always busy meeting with residents, reviewing projects, and planning for the future.  Tonight will be no different for them.

In addition to reviewing a grant application for a new park, this citizen board will take action on the first of many steps required by State law to update the City’s Master Land Use Plan.

Draft Master Land Use Plan Update

It is also fitting that tonight the Planning Commission will celebrate Shawn Keenan’s recent promotion to City Planner.  Our first planner, consultant Steve Lehoczky, recommended the City’s unique Master Land Use Plan format almost 40 years ago.  We’re not aware of any other municipality that uses the same style.  Lehoczky’s plan format allowed the City to quickly adapt to changing development trends in the 1980’s and 1990’s by dividing the community into three simple, flexible classifications.  It was an innovative, outside the box idea at the time and still works for our community today.

Interested in learning more?  The Planning Commission will meet tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the Robert W. Grusnick Public Safety Building, which is located at 1899 N. Squirrel Road.  All are welcome to attend.

Grant Sought To Convert Former Country Kitchen Into New City Park

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, City Planner and Brian Marzolf, Recreation Director

A public hearing has been scheduled by the Auburn Hills Planning Commission/Recreation Commission for Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. in the Robert W. Grusnick Public Safety Building, which is located at 1899 N. Squirrel Road, regarding the City’s consideration of a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant application to assist with the funding of a potential new park along the Clinton River.

The site where the proposed Kayak Point Park (name under consideration) is planned is the former Country Kitchen restaurant property, which is located at the northeast corner of Opdyke Road and Auburn Road.

The City obtained the property from Oakland County as the result of tax foreclosure in July 2017.  The entire site is situated within a federally designated floodway and flood hazard zone, which makes converting the land into a park a natural transition.  In accordance with the goals of the City Council, the project will also help beautify and improve that section of the Opdyke Road corridor.

The grant application includes many features that will take advantage of the site’s placement along the Clinton River, which are the following:

  • New access point to the Clinton River for recreational use
  • Kayak and canoe launch
  • Riverfront/access for fishing
  • Wildlife/river viewing areas
  • Pathways and nature trails
  • Entrance drive for vehicles from Auburn Road
  • Picnic shelter with seating
  • River wayfinding and safety signage
  • LED and solar site lighting
  • Landscaping with native plants/grasses and rock

This project has the full support of eleven organizations including: DNR Fisheries, SEMCOG, Oakland County Department of Economic Development and Planning, Clinton River Watershed Council, City of Rochester Hills, local businesses, and nearby property owners.

Those wishing to learn more about the proposal are welcome to attend the meeting and provide comments.  The proposed grant application may be examined in advance of the meeting during regular business hours at the Auburn Hills Community Center.