By DREW HOWARD
During their latest meeting on Monday, May 7, the Rochester Hills city council voted to acquire jurisdiction of two miles of Auburn Road as part of the city’s effort to redevelop the area with a more pedestrian and business-friendly approach.
Monday’s vote follows “months of discussions” with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and marks one of the first tangible signs of progress on the Auburn Road Corridor Project. Discussions around revitalizing the area have gone back as early as 2016.
“While I understand we’re taking on additional responsibilities, what we gain in terms of flexibility moving forward with the Auburn Road Corridor Project makes it absolutely worth it,” council member Ryan Deel said. “And so I’m pretty enthusiastic. This is an excellent first step toward moving forward and making the Auburn Road Corridor Project a reality.”
Rochester Hills leadership plans to redevelop Auburn Road on the two-mile stretch between Dequindre Road and Culbertson Avenue, according to the project draft plan, with a primary goal of strengthening the area in terms of walkability, safety, and commercial development (restaurants, boutiques, entertainment venues, etc.). At the 2018 State of the City Address, Mayor Barnett described the area as a “dangerous place for vehicles and pedestrians.”
Other goals stated in the draft include, but are not limited to: create clear transitions and borders between residential neighborhood and the commercial corridor; provide safe pedestrian crossings; bring in more green elements, landscaping, public open space and plazas; and provide additional parking supply.
Council member Susan Bowyer pointed out that there’s also potential for the City of Rochester Hills to acquire the other four miles of Auburn Road in the future. While this is certainly a possibility, city engineer Paul Davis said there are no such plans in the works yet.
Council members also voted to dissolve the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) entirely, which allows for tax-exempt bond financing for industrial and nonprofit development projects within Rochester Hills. The EDC has an annual budget of $950 to pay its six board members for meeting attendance. While the EDC has continued to elect new members annually and meet on an “as needed basis,” the board hasn’t addressed any new business since 1986, according to the council’s agenda summary.
The Rochester Hills City Council will meet again Monday, May 21. You can watch this meeting and others in full by visiting the council’s YouTube page, “Council Meetings – City of Rochester Hills.”