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.

G.I.G.O.

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

Long ago (when dinosaurs still roamed the earth) I attempted to learn computer skills with the ancient MS-Dos system.  One of the main tenets of this indecipherable system was “G.I.G.O.” which as we all know stands for “garbage in, garbage out.”  Today we’re going to put a fresh perspective on that old phrase and talk about actual garbage.

When it comes to “garbage in” let’s first define “garbage.”  Garbage is basically food wastes from animal matter, fruit or vegetable matter originally meant as food or waste products from the preparation of food.  The storage of this material prior to disposal must be in metal or heavy plastic storage containers with tight fitting lids.

trash pick up reminder

Reminder – Do not leave refuse at curbside longer than 24-hours before pick up

Another type of refuse is rubbish, which is basically solid waste.  This type of refuse may be stored in plastic bags or disposable paper trash bags.  Yard waste, including leaves and grass clippings, may be stored the same way.

As to “garbage out,” first of all determine what day of the week the City’s waste contractor, Waste Management, picks up in your neighborhood.  As that day arrives, set out your refuse, containers and bags, at the curb the night before.  It is important to remember to not have your refuse standing at the curb longer than 24 hours.  Keep in mind that Waste Management observes the following holidays which will cause pickup to be a day behind: New Years Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day,  Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Also keep in mind these prohibited items: gasoline and motor oil, car and truck parts, hazardous wastes, construction materials, concrete/bricks and tree stumps.

Following the above “G.I.G.O.” guidelines can result in a cleaner, neater, rodent-free Auburn Hills.

Let There Be Lights

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

The last two mornings coming into work, especially when close to Auburn Hills, there has been pretty thick fog.  Today, visibility couldn’t have been more than a hundred feet.  It’s sort of pretty and spooky all at once.  It also can be dangerous to drive in.

Foggy road

It’s especially dangerous when our fellow drivers make it more difficult to see them by not turning on their lights.  I can hear it now: “I don’t need my headlights on.  It’s not dark outside.”  But it’s not for seeing, it’s for being seen.

Many newer vehicles have lights that turn on automatically which is great.  But for older vehicles, make sure other drivers can see you coming so they don’t pull out in front of you or turn in front of you.  A rule of thumb – when you have to turn on your windshield wipers, turn on your lights.

The bottom line: see and be seen and be safe.