Breaking Down Barriers

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Could someone with a physical limitation visit your home today?  Do you think that you will be able to continue living in your home as you grow older?  The answer to both questions is most likely “no.”

The City of Auburn Hills is working to address this issue and raise awareness with home builders that certain design elements and features can be seamlessly integrated into the construction of a new home so that it is functionally accessible for people of all ages and abilities.  Encouraging “universal design” was a key policy recommendation that resulted from discussions with the community during the Age Friendly Auburn Hills initiative.

Overview of Universal Design Features. Diagram used with permission from Heartland Builders, LLC.

Overview of Universal Design Features. Diagram used with permission from Heartland Builders, LLC.

The strategy behind the universal design movement is to make a home usable for everyone, especially those with short or long-term disabilities (living within or visiting), by discretely removing physical barriers – without making the home look institutional or aesthetically unappealing.

To incentivize builders to incorporate these design features into their new home proposals, the City intends to offer streamlined permitting and eligibility for zoning flexibility.

Those interested in learning more about this initiative and proposed ordinance are encouraged to attend the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Wednesday, February 15th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall.  A final decision on the ordinance is anticipated to be made by the City Council on Monday, February 27th.

Hot Industrial Market Fuels Need For New Building On Taylor Road

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

An application has been submitted by Cunningham-Limp for approval to construct a speculative 50,000 square foot office / light industrial building on a 3.6 acre vacant parcel of land located at the northeast corner of Taylor Road and Pacific Drive.  No tenant has committed to the site at this time; however, a number have shown interest.

Rendering of the proposed building from Taylor Road

Rendering of the proposed building from Taylor Road

Site Plan

Site Plan

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

Auburn Hills 2016 Developments Exceed $170 Million

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

For those who drive through Auburn Hills on a regular basis, they more than likely have noticed an increase in the number of bulldozers, cranes and construction crews working on a number of sites scattered throughout the City.  This year the Auburn Hills City Council approved an estimated $170,305,000.00 worth of new developments, redevelopments and business expansions.  The 22 projects include an assortment of residential, commercial and industrial developments.

Two projects that receive the most public interest are the H.U.B. (Home of Urban Bowling) that will be moving into the old Big Buck Brewery and the Auburn Hills Marketplace shopping center that will include Starbucks as its anchor store.

starbucks

Two new senior housing developments Villa Montclair (88 detached single-family homes) and Blossom Park (160 unit senior living center) will help fulfill the goal of the City’s Age Friendly initiative by providing a more diverse housing stock for the City’s growing senior population.

villa-montclair

Villa Montclair Clubhouse

The City continues to attract new businesses of all sizes from Renishaw’s new 20,070 square foot technology and research facility to Martinrea’s new 108,200 square foot technology and research facility.

martinrea

Martinrea Ground Breaking Ceremony

Last but not least the City is excited to see construction activities taking place at Dutton Corporate Center located at the southeast corner of Lapper Road and Dutton Road, with the construction of the new Summit Place Kia of Auburn Hills automobile dealership.

kia

Rendering of New Kia Dealership

We look forward to what 2017 has to bring.

Silverdome Off-Site Parking Lot Set For New Light Industrial Building

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

The site located at the northwest corner of Opdyke Road and Featherstone Road was once used as an overflow parking lot for many diehard Detroit Lions Fans.  That property will soon be home to a new 108,250 sq. ft. light industrial building.

site-photo

The new facility, with its modern look, is designed to suit either one large business or two separate businesses.

rendering

It is anticipated that the building will be complete and ready for occupancy sometime in August 2017.  Check back for construction progress udates.

They Wear Work Boots

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

My Dad often said to me, “Stevie, in order to leave footprints in the sands of time, you must wear work boots.”  My Dad is now gone, but his words still motivate me.

Perhaps that’s why I was so energized being with the Planning Commission this past Wednesday night.  I could not go to sleep when I got home after the meeting.  So much to do, so many possibilities.

The Planning Commission created an ambitious work plan for Y2017 during their marathon four-hour study session.  We are so thankful for them.

The Auburn Hills Planning Commission and Staff (12-14-16)

The Auburn Hills Planning Commission and Staff (12-14-16)

This dedicated group of volunteers work with a clear mission.  They give up their nights and spend well over one hundred hours annually reviewing projects and planning issues so that the City of Auburn Hills will be strong in the future.

What will they do next year?  Below are just a few of their assignments:

  • Inventory the remaining vacant and underutilized land in Auburn Hills (including the Palace of Auburn Hills property) and provide recommendations on how those parcels should be redeveloped.   The City Council has set this project as a 2017 goal for the community.
  • Work with Senior Services Director Karen Adcock to make policy and ordinance recommendations to the City Council to implement the City’s 2015 Age Friendly Action Plan.
  • Create a plan of action, study, and work with the City Council to implement policies and ordinances addressing student housing.
  • Begin updates to the City’s Zoning Ordinance, Master Land Use Plan, and Parks and Recreation Plan.
  • Hold public hearings and review an anticipated 20+ private development projects.

Yes, the Planning Commission has put on … and laced up tight … their work boots so that they can leave footprints in the sands of time.  It’s exciting that Assistant City Planner Shawn Keenan and I get to work shoulder to shoulder with this group to assist them with their mission.

As I tried to get some sleep in the early hours of Thursday morning, all I could think of was, “It just can’t get any better than this!”  The bar has been set.  Let the work begin.

Kensington Community Church 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 Kensington Community Church (KCC) to rezone their 19.5 acre parcel located at the southeast corner of Dutton and Bald Mountain Roads from R-1A, One-Family Residential District to T&R, Technology and Research District.

Zoning is the legal tool that governs the use of land and this application is intended to implement the policy recommendations of the recently updated Northeast Corner Neighborhood Master Plan for this site.  The proposed zoning change will allow the church to begin marketing the property for clean industrial development.

Concept rendering of how the church's land could be redeveloped

Concept rendering showing how the church’s land could be redeveloped

A computer generated model was created during the master plan process to show what development on the site could look like in the future based on T&R zoning standards. Click on the short video below to view the model.

KCC had obtained City Council approval in March 2008 to build a 1,500 seat, 72,084 square foot church facility on this property and the adjacent RSC site, but the project never materialized for financial reasons due to the recession.

Those interested in learning more about this proposal are encouraged to attend the public hearing at the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Wednesday, November 16th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall.  A final decision on the rezoning application is anticipated to be made by the City Council on Monday, November 28th.

Oakland County OK’s NE Corner Neighborhood Master Plan Update

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

We’re pleased to report that the City of Auburn Hills has received unanimous support from Oakland County officials for the proposed update to the Northeast Corner Neighborhood Master Plan.  The County’s Coordinating Zoning Committee reviewed the plan this past Tuesday.

The comprehensive process to update the document, originally adopted in 2001, began in January and has included a total of four public meetings with considerable citizen input.

Discussing the proposed changes with the neighborhood

Discussing the proposed changes with the neighborhood – January 19, 2016

The Planning Commission has scheduled a final public hearing to formally adopt the plan for Wednesday, September 14th at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall.  All are welcome to attend.