Yay! Auburn Hills Wins Prestigious Urban Planning Award

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development and Karen Adcock, Director of Senior Services

We’re thrilled to report that the City of Auburn Hills has been selected to receive the 2017 Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice by the Michigan Association of Planning for its work on its Age Friendly Action Plan.

The nomination was reviewed by a jury of American Planning Association – Florida Chapter professionals who indicated that the Age Friendly Action Plan was an “exemplary, well-documented effort to provide an opportunity for the community to have conversations about the needs of an aging population.” 

Auburn Hills will receive the award at the Michigan Association of Planning’s annual conference on September 27, 2017 at the Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island.  

We’re grateful for the support of AARP, our City Council and Planning Commission, and the many volunteers and staff that assisted with this initiative.  Most importantly, we’re appreciative of all those who attended the community meetings and provided valuable input that went into the plan.

The Michigan Association of Planning also recognized the City of Auburn Hills last year for Best Practice for our Industrial Property Analysis and in 2013 for our Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Readiness Project. 

Auburn Hills plans to build on this recognition and incrementally improve the quality of life for our seniors over time, which will naturally make our community a friendlier and more accessible place for all.  That sounds like a really good plan.

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.

Forester Hills Begins Home Sales

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

We’re happy to report that the first home in Forester Hills is under construction.

The first home, Unit 27, is moving along in construction

The first home, Unit 27, is moving along in construction

Forester Hills is a 27 home development located west of Old Adams Road, north of the Forester Square Condominiums.  The project was originally approved with 28 home sites, but ownership of “Unit 28” is planned to be transferred to Forester Square Condominiums to be used as open space.

Forester Hills Site Plan

Forester Hills Site Plan

View of home and street looking south toward Forester Square Condominiums

View of the new home and street looking south toward Forester Square Condominiums

The development will consist of a mix of new ranch and split-level style homes between 1,600 and 2,300 square feet in size.  Each single-family home will be designed with a brick and vinyl exterior, along with a full basement and two car garage.  The starting price point for the new homes will be $269,900.

For more information about Forester Hills, contact sales representative Carmen Mollicone at (248) 644-7000 or via e-mail at cmollicone@signaturesothebys.com.

Going National

Posted by – Elizabeth Brennan, Executive Assistant

As the baby-boom generation ages, communities from all over the country are working to prepare for the changing needs of their residents.  In Auburn Hills, planning for accessible housing options, transportation needs and other enhanced services officially began in 2013 with the City’s acceptance into the AARP’s Age-Friendly Community Network.

Age-Friendly Auburn Hills program leaders, Karen Adcock, Director of Senior Services and Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development, presented an overview of our Age-Friendly program yesterday to a registered webinar audience of over 400 city managers, city planners and senior services professionals from around the country.

Both Auburn Hills and San Antonio, Texas were invited to share their experiences in developing Age-Friendly programs in their respective cities.  Both communities discussed the processes of engaging their residents through community events, turning gathered information into action plans and finding partners and volunteers in the community to fill needs that municipalities may not be able to fill.

Karen and Steve talking about the Age-Friendly program at a community meeting last year.

Karen and Steve speaking about the Age-Friendly program at a community meeting last year.

The webinar, hosted by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) was designed to provide local governments with an overview of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities and showcase how it has helped communities plan for the future.

Auburn Hills was honored to be selected for this opportunity.

Can You Give Up Your Lunchtime Burger?

Karen Adcock, Director of Senior Services

This couple just needs a little help.  If not you, then who?

Here’s the story.  He’s a veteran who served his country proudly many years ago.  She raised their four children, volunteered at their children’s school, and at the local library.  They both raised their children to be successful adults with active careers and families of their own.  Their children support and help their parents as best as they can, but two live out-of-state and one lives over six hours away.  Their youngest, who lives in the next town over, keeps busy with her young children’s schedules so she can only visit a couple of times a week.

This dedicated husband gets up daily and makes breakfast for the two of them. She sits there across from the table from him, smiles shyly at him and wonders: Who is this good-looking man?  She has no idea this man is her husband of 55+ years.  He smiles back to reassure her everything is going to be alright.  This morning is no different from the one before, and the one before that, and so on.

Every day this good man helps his wife with her personal needs, gets her dressed and takes her with him when he runs errands.  He wonders to himself how she can be so wide awake as the night before she wandered the halls of their home looking for something that she couldn’t explain to him. He gets up making sure she is okay, and making sure the double bolts on the doors are secure so she won’t wander away. He sighs to himself, as he realizes how tired he really is, and how each day seems harder and harder than the last. But he loves her and vows he will take care of her to the end.

At lunchtime there’s a knock on the door.  He smiles as he answers the door. A wonderful and cheerful volunteer is bringing two nutritious meals to him and his wife. The volunteer greets him warmly and asks how he’s doing?  He smiles a weary smile and says the same as usual.  He thanks the volunteer and says how grateful he is for the meals – as it’s one less thing he has to worry about.

Meals on Wheels crop hands

The volunteer leaves the veteran and his wife to deliver more meals.  While this volunteer feels a pang of sadness for the couple, she also feels good inside knowing she has made another person’s day a bit brighter.  Her spirits pick up knowing she will make another person’s day better as she delivers the next meal and so on.  This volunteer smiles as she realizes how much she looks forward to this one day a week, this one fleeting lunch hour, and how her day is much brighter because of her involvement with the Meals on Wheels program.

Our Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver nutritious meals seven days a week to numerous seniors, much like this veteran and his wife (which is a true story).  Most of our Meals on Wheels participants are over the age of 75, female, and widowed.  This is not an income based program – it’s provided on an as-needed basis.  Many participants are low-income, frail, disabled, and unable to prepare a nutritious meal.  While others are caregivers that get some relief by receiving meals through the program.  Most importantly, the friendly face and hello from the Meals on Wheels volunteer may be the only human contact these folks will receive.

You too can help Auburn Hills’ residents like this couple.  It’s a rather small commitment of time in the grand scheme of things – it’s just a lunch hour.  You too can be that friendly volunteer that makes a difference in our community.  To volunteer, stop by the Auburn Hills Community Center or call 248-370-9353 and ask for Volunteer Coordinator Paige Baranyai.

Consider being a Meals on Wheels volunteer, because I can promise you this, the experience will be much more satisfying than any lunchtime burger will ever be.

Age-Friendly Program … We’re Ready To Take Action

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

We’re pleased to report that a ground breaking study designed to help improve the livability of our community is now complete.

This plan will not sit on a shelf somewhere. It's a guide for our City's future.

This plan will not sit on a shelf somewhere. It’s a detailed guide for future City decisions.

The Auburn Hills Age-Friendly Action Plan has been developed, with the support of AARP, which outlines a game plan on how to improve the quality of life of our seniors, which in turn will naturally make our town a friendlier place for all.  Review the document by clicking here.

The City Council, Planning Commission, and Age-Friendly Auburn Hills team wish to thank all who participated in the numerous community meetings that have occurred over the past two years.  Your input has assisted the team with formulating a realistic and clear “plan for action” which will help make Auburn Hills a better place to live, work, play … and age.

Once again, we’re very appreciative of the community’s support and participation in this historic initiative.  Stay tuned for future stories on how the City and its partners plan to implement the study’s recommendations.

Right-Sized Homes: Forester Hills Addresses Pent-Up Demand

Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner

It’s often reported that there is a growing need in America for more diverse housing options to fit the demand of today’s shifting demographics.  While driving around metro Detroit you will often see newer neighborhoods with either large homes (often described as “McMansions”), usually between 2,600 to 4,000 sq. ft., or rental developments composed of higher density multi-family units.

While there is nothing wrong with these types of developments, many people want something in between – often called “missing middle housing.”  A recent survey conducted by real estate website Trulia, found that 44% of Americans want an average-sized home somewhere between 1,400 and 2,600 sq. ft.

Forester Hills Site Plan

Forester Hills Site Plan

Well, a new housing development is progressing in the City of Auburn Hills known as Forester Hills, located along Old Adams Road.  The builder believes the project will sell out quickly due to consumer demand.  Forester Hills offers 28 single-family homes in both ranch (1,530 to 1,631 sq. ft.) and split-level (2,103 to 2,236 sq. ft.) styles.

Home styles offered

Home styles offered

These homes will also be “age-friendly” with an assortment of desired features such as low maintenance and durable exterior brick siding, 32” wide doors, wider hallways, main floor master bedrooms, a passive park, and is in close proximity to the City’s River Woods Park and Clinton River Trail.

The streets and utilities are now installed. Home construction is about to begin.

The streets and utilities are now installed. Home construction is about to begin.

For more information about Forester Hills, contact sales representative Stefano Militello at (586) 212-6308.