Our Final Blog Post

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

All good things must come to an end.  In our case, we plan to evolve our communications into something even better.

After almost seven years of operation and over 1,100 blog posts, we have decided to retire the Developing Thoughts blog.  We wish to thank everyone for their support.  It has been our mission to keep folks informed of the great things happening in the City of Auburn Hills.  Creating a high level of transparency has always been our goal.  We hope you have found our posts informative and helpful.

Moving forward the Community Development Department will be contributing to the Inside Auburn Hills blog.  

Sign up to receive e-mail notifications of Inside Auburn Hills posts in the upper right hand side of their page

We plan to merge much of the Developing Thoughts blog’s historical content into the Inside Auburn Hills blog in the months ahead so that people can still access the information.

Thank you for reading our blog posts.  It has been a fun ride!

Hitting A Milestone: 1,000 Stories

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

We made it!  This is our 1,000th blog post.

It’s hard to believe that we started this project just under six years ago.  To be honest, we almost quit twice.  But, several of us have come together as a team to share the workload and write as many stories as we can about the development occurring in this wonderful town.

Why do we do it?  Well, the City Council takes tremendous pride in the transparency of the City’s communications with the public.  It’s a top priority for the organization as a whole.  Thus, the City uses various methods and platforms “to get the word out” ranging from public meetings to the use of blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.

In coordination with that intention, the Community Development Department has used this blog as an informational tool and historical archive since February 3, 2012.  We hope you have enjoyed it and found it useful.

We strive to reach 1,500 stories by 2021.  So, stay with us.  It will no doubt be interesting to read how the development of this dynamic community will unfold in the years to come.

Upon Retirement

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

(Written yesterday – Dale’s last day working in the Community Development Department.  Happy Retirement, Dale!)

Wednesday, September 27th, will be my final day as an employee with the City of Auburn Hills.  I’ve worked as a part-time Code Enforcement Officer for over 11 years.  After 30 years as a Police Officer and Sergeant with the Detroit P.D., this job was a welcome change of pace.

I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the wonderful folks who made the job (almost) a pleasure.  Christy Worrell and Mary Cox, our beautiful clerks, who put up with my morning crabbiness and generally turned my day around.  The department’s Executive Assistant, Elizabeth Brennan, always smiling, even when she was swamped and you’re giving her something else to do.

From left – Jeff Spencer, Jeff Fraser and Rick Oberlin

The two Building Inspectors, Rick Oberlin and Jeff Fraser, who can be counted on to give you accurate information on codes and practical stuff.

From left to right: Rick Oberlin, Darren Darge, Shawn Keenan, Christy Worrell, Jeff Spencer, Howard Wager, Dale Mathes, Mary Cox and Elizabeth Brennan

Shawn Keenan, the Assistant City Planner and Water Resource Guy, is always ready to update you on environmental topics and/or BBQ recipes.  Jeff Spencer, the Building Official, who will tell you everything you wanted to know about Auburn Hills history.  He grew up here and seems to know half the population personally.  And Steve Cohen, our Director, a solid family man, who treats his employees like they are a part of his family.

Community Development Director, Steve Cohen with a happy customer, bearing gifts

And then, there are my past and present partners.  Jeff Malone, now a Police Officer with Auburn Hills, formerly a Las Vegas cop.  We sort of learned this job together and he improved it by streamlining the grass cutting procedure by introducing green door stickers rather than mailed notices.

Jack Skinner (left) and Darren Darge

Kristen Hollenbeck, also a former officer, who, although here for a relatively brief time, made an impact with her quiet but determined demeanor.  Darren Darge, who, with his background in assessing, carried the ball during the recession.  He covered the inspections of vacant houses and kept on the banks and mortgage companies to maintain them.  And, now, there’s Jack Skinner – the “Jack of all trades.”  Former Navy man, truck driver, fire fighter, and long-time DPW worker, he has been instrumental in cleaning up this city.  From temporary signs to getting commercial parking lots paved, he has done a huge amount of work in a short period of time.  Thanks to you all.

Working for Auburn Hills has been a great way to get myself out of debt, buy a house and just plain keep busy.  It’s also introduced me to a great group of people who will be remembered for years to come.  Good luck and God bless!

Beautification Winners Selected

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Community Development Executive Assistant

The Auburn Hills Beautification Advisory Commission (BAC) met this week to review nominations for the City’s Beautification Awards Program.  Forty-eight residential and commercial properties were selected and will be honored this year at the Beautification Awards Banquet in late September.

The winning properties all have something in common – residents and business owners who care and take pride in creating healthy and inviting spaces.

Their efforts are recognized by the BAC because they help make Auburn Hills a beautiful city for all to enjoy.

Long May It Wave

Posted by – Dale Mathes, Code Enforcement Officer

Last week, Jack Skinner, Code Enforcement Officer for the City of Auburn Hills was on routine patrol at Waukegan and Squirrel when he noticed that the American flag raised at the Auburn Hills Boys and Girls Club was badly torn and tattered.  Jack, a six-year Navy veteran who saw action aboard the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey during the Lebanon War in the 1980’s, was concerned about the flag and how the symbol’s condition could negatively reflect on the many good things the Club does for our community.

Jack stopped in and spoke to an office employee who said that the Club’s Director was on vacation and honestly expressed that she didn’t know if they could afford to purchase a new flag at this time.  Later, Jack brought up this situation to Steve Cohen, the Director of Auburn Hills Community Development.  After a brief discussion of options, Steve remembered that he had an American flag in great condition and volunteered its use at the Club.

Last Thursday, in the company of several members of the Auburn Hills American Legion Post 143, Jack proudly raised the flag on the towering flagpole by the entrance of the Club.


It turns out that Steve’s American flag was an old gift from his father-in-law who was very proud that the flag was put to such good use.  Steve’s father-in-law’s dad was a World War II Navy veteran who has since passed away.  Steve told me his father-in-law has the folded military flag that was presented to him at his father’s funeral.  His father-in-law stated his hope was to someday put that memorial flag to a similar use.

I wanted to share this story of the good actions of Jack and Steve.  They worked together without anyone watching to support the Club, when the institution just needed a little help.  With some persistent nudging, they let me tell you about this.  I am glad they did.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”


A Few Quotes On Valentine’s Day

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Community Development Executive Assistant

“All you need is love.  But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz


“Forever thine, forever mine, forever ours.” Immortal Beloved – Ludwig van Beethoven


“Today is Valentine’s Day.  Or, as men like to call it, Extortion Day.” – Jay Leno

“If you were a Transformer, you’d be Optimus FINE.” – Unknown

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow internet service to see who they really are.” – Will Ferrell


“Never go to bed mad – stay up and fight.” – Phillis Diller

“True love stories never have endings.” – Richard Bach

“Love thy neighbor – and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier.” – Mae West

“Maybe you don’t need the whole world to love you, you know.  Maybe you just need one person.” – Kermit the Frog

“That’s why they call them crushes. If they were easy, they’d call them something else.” – Sixteen Candles


“The truth is everyone is going to hurt you.  You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” – Bob Marley

“You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.” – Oscar Wilde

“There are only 3 things women need in life: food, water and compliments.” – Chris Rock

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” – When Harry Met Sally


“Women love a self-confident bald man.” – Larry David


Celebrate your love in Auburn Hills.

Building Official Jeff Spencer Honored For 30 Years Of Service

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

Yesterday was special for us.

Numerous City staff visited our Department, and gathered around some wonderful Costco cake, to congratulate Building Official Jeff Spencer for 30 years of dedicated and outstanding service to the City of Auburn Hills.

Building Official Jeff Spencer (left) and Assistant City Manager Don Grice (right)

Building Official Jeff Spencer (left) and Assistant City Manager Don Grice (right)

Jeff Spencer has played an integral role in the City’s growth and has a ton of experience.  He has helped ensure the safety of hundreds of buildings, which is quite a legacy.   It is people like Jeff who help make our community great.

In front of his co-workers, friends, and family, Jeff gave a heartfelt thank you to everyone and provided some sage advice:

  1. Keep life in balance.  Work hard for eight hours, have eight hours of fun and down time, and sleep eight hours.  Mess that up and things get crazy.
  2. Keep working to improve yourself and your skills.
  3. Do your homework and don’t try to do things on your own.
  4. Take action.  Don’t be scared to make a mistake.  You can also get in trouble for doing nothing.
  5. Be a mentor to someone.  Teach the younger generation and pass on your knowledge.  Don’t forget that you can also learn the skills they have to offer.
  6. Change and get better or you will be left behind.

Jeff … Thank you for your service to the City of Auburn Hills.  You are an awesome big brother.  I look forward to working many more years side-by-side with you.