Honor Our Flag This Memorial Day

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

As Americans we will observe Memorial Day this coming Monday, a national holiday to honor the members of the armed services who died in defense of our lives and liberties.  Many of the observances will involve displaying of “The Stars and Stripes,” “Old Glory,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the flag of the United States of America.

The following are some rules of flag etiquette that can help in handling and displaying our flag with honor and respect.

  1. On Memorial Day itself, the flag is to be lowered to half-staff before noon and then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.  Raising the flag is to be done briskly while lowering it should be done slowly and with all present saluting.  A standard military salute is performed by all in uniform while those in civilian dress should place their right hand over their heart.  Those wearing hats should remove them and hold them in their right hand as the hand is over the heart.
  2. Display of the flag has its own set of rules. The flag must be raised to the very top of the pole (except when at half-staff).  No other flag must be above it.  Flags should be flown from dawn to dusk.  If flown at night, it must be illuminated.  If displayed indoors, on a wall (either vertically or horizontally) the stars should be to the left of the observer.
  3. If a flag becomes worn, it can be sewn and repaired.  However, if it becomes tattered and unrepairable, it should be replaced and the worn flag should be burned in a dignified manner.  The American Legion, along with Boy and Girl Scout troops, often will hold flag burning ceremonies on June 12th, Flag Day.

As Americans, it is our proud heritage to honor our fallen heroes this coming Monday.  We should also make sure that we revere and respect our country’s unique symbol in their memory.

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.

Do-It-Yourself Driveways? Not Allowed

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

Responding to what was seen as unsightly, damaged lawns, the Auburn Hills City Council adopted a new ordinance on September 12, 2016.  Ordinance Number 16-880 prohibits driving or operating vehicles on lawns.

Example of the blight and nuisance this ordinance is intended to address

Example of the blight and nuisance this ordinance is intended to address

It states, in part: “A vehicle shall not be driven or operated on the lawn of a side yard, rear yard or front yard, if said driving or operating…causes damage to the lawn of the…yard.”  The ordinance goes on to cite the intent of eliminating “blighting, nuisance and damage factors.”  Driving/operating on lawns can also cause “…loss of groundcover and erosion, and provides potential environmental hazards.”

This ordinance will not be used for a resident who once in a while drives across the lawn to avoid another vehicle in the driveway or for loading and unloading large or heavy articles from a porch or entrance.  It was adopted to address the unusual occurrence of ruts and damage to vegetation caused by repeatedly driving across a lawn.  Some residents have done this to make a homemade, dirt driveway.

This is a violation

This is a violation

If you wish to install a driveway on your property, please contact the Community Development Department at 248-364-6900 for more information.  We would be happy to go over the City’s standards for installation.

Do it right, not do-it-yourself.

A Seamless Transition For Jack Skinner

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Unlike the contentious U.S. Presidential election, we have made a seamless transition in the Community Development Department.

Earlier this week, we welcomed Jack Skinner as our new Code Enforcement Officer, as former officer Darren Darge moves on to become the Commercial Appraiser in the City’s Assessing Department.

Jack Skinner (left) and Darren Darge (right)

Jack Skinner (left) and Darren Darge (right)

Jack Skinner joins us after working over 11 years in the City’s Department of Public Works.  Folks who know Jack describe him as “a leader” and a “great guy” who works hard for the citizens of Auburn Hills.  He served our country in the United States Navy aboard the battleship USS New Jersey during the Lebanese Conflict and volunteers his time as a High School JV football and travel baseball coach.

Jack joins veteran officer Dale Mathes in working with Auburn Hills’ residents to keep our town neat, clean, and safe.  These two men are tasked with enforcing the laws created by the City Council that address blight, lawn parking, inoperable vehicles, commercial vehicles, lawn cutting, and property maintenance.

It’s a pretty tough job … and that’s why we’re glad to have Jack on board.

Keep Off The Grass

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

Lately, Auburn Hills’ Code Enforcement Officers have been noticing an increase in lawn parking.  Ordinance 1812(3) states that “Vehicles shall not be parked on the lawn of a side yard, rear yard or front yard.”  All vehicles must be on an approved surface consisting of cement, asphalt, gravel or brick.

next to house

This ordinance was enacted because lawn parking is “unsightly, causes the loss of ground cover and erosion, provides potential environmental hazards and could potentially impede emergency vehicles/personnel access to a structure.”

a mess

So think of the look of your neighborhood, the local environment and your continued safety and park on approved surfaces only.  C’mon, keep off the grass.

Be On The Lookout

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

In this month’s water bill will be a new City produced brochure dealing with Code Enforcement.  It provides a general overview of the City’s rules for various issues that Code Enforcement Officers deal with every day such as blight, lawn parking, inoperable vehicles, commercial vehicles, lawn cutting, and property maintenance.

This document should prove to be an important and informative tool in helping citizens keep Auburn Hills neater, cleaner, and safer.

Look for it in your July water bill or click here to review.

Auburn Hills Code Enforcement Officers Darren Darge (left) and Dale Mathes (right)

Auburn Hills Code Enforcement Officers Darren Darge (left) and Dale Mathes (right)

Spring Has Sprung!

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

It’s finally here. Robins, flowering trees, buds on everything and green grass, which means another season of grass maintenance.  Statistics show that 99% of Auburn Hills’ residents, property owners and businesses regularly and routinely maintain their lawns.  However, for the few that don’t, the City enacted an ordinance allowing the City, through a contractor, to cut grass in violation of the ordinance.  This ordinance is in effect from May 1st to October 15th.

Grass over eight inches tall is in violation of the City's ordinance

Grass over eight inches tall is in violation of the City’s ordinance

Ordinance 78-28 prohibits certain noxious weeds and grass in a residential neighborhood taller than eight inches.  Houses with grass that long are affixed a green violation sticker to advise them to cut the lawn within 72 hours.  Commercial buildings and vacant lots are notified by mail to cut within ten days (more time is given to allow the Post Office to do their magic.)

If the grass is not cut within the allotted time, one of two contractors will be assigned to cut the grass.  One contractor is assigned residential and the other to large, usually vacant, lots.  The owner is billed for the contractor’s fees plus a substantial administrative fee.  If not paid, the fee will be added to the owner’s property tax bill, along with an additional transfer-to-tax fee.

As stated earlier, the vast majority of residents take care of their lawns.  This percentage is increasing yearly as the number of foreclosed homes is decreasing.  Keep up the good work folks.  And as I say every year, let’s keep Auburn Hills green, not overgrown.