Leaders: Life is Good in Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township
Businesses are expanding and people are building homes (including one that's 43,000 square feet). Here's a look at more good news revealed at annual Community Outlook Luncheon.
There's a 43,000-square-foot home being built in Oakland Township and a second community garden on its way to the Rochester-Rochester Hills community.
New, high-tech businesses are coming to town and longtime companies are expanding.
And, if you remember nothing else from the messages broadcast at the annual Community Outlook Luncheon sponsored by the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce, there's this:
"Tim Horton's opens mid-March," said Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett in reference to the long-awaited doughnut shop coming soon on Rochester Road.
Barnett, along with Rochester Mayor Stuart Bikson and Oakland Township Supervisor Terry Gonser, presented their communities' highlights of 2012 and looked ahead to 2013 in addressing a crowd of more than 300 at the luncheon at Oakland University.
Here's a look at what each community leader had to say.
(There was plenty of comic relief, too. Read all about the jokes here.)
Wednesday marked Gonser's 90th day in office as supervisor.
Gonser, a lifelong resident of the township he now helps lead, acknowledged his new adventure in politics has been a "humbling" experience. But in these first three months, he and his board have much to be proud of, he said.
- In 2012, new home starts in Oakland Township tripled, with more than 150 homes built.
- New home starts have held steady so far in 2013 in the township, including construction under way on one home that is 45,000 square feet.
- Starting next month, all township board meetings will be televised on CMNTV and live streamed on the township's website.
- Along with meeting agendas, all meeting packets and documents will be posted online; the township is also in the process of updating its website to make it more user-friendly and transparent, Gonser said.
- The township is working with businesses to help them become more profitable, considering requests for outdoor seating at restaurants and other ideas.
After poking some fun at his neighbors, Bikson acknowledged the end of the Main Street Makeover, last year's renovation of downtown Rochester.
"I do not want to get overly dramatic, but I am officially declaring mission accomplished," Bikson said to applause from the crowd.
According to Bikson:
- Business retention and attraction is on the rise in Rochester; 16 new businesses opened in 2012.
- Tax rates in Rochester remain among the lowest in Oakland County.
- The city is about to embark on a "major parking study" that will balance the needs of downtown businesses owners and shoppers. The study will start this summer.
"I believe we are coming out of difficult economic times stronger than ever," Bikson said.
Barnett began his address with a Bingo challenge: He created game boards for each guest and encouraged them to play along and listen for key phrases like "OPC" and "Brad Keslowski."
In all seriousness, Barnett had no trouble highlighting the positives of his city.
- Last year, the city saw the highest number of home-building permits since 2008, and the average construction cost of a new home was $400,000.
- The city welcomed seven new high-tech companies in 2012.
- There are eight new residential developments under way this year.
- A Rochester Hills Community Garden at Wabash Park is set to open in the spring.
- A "major parks announcement" will be unveiled at the state of the city address in March.
Barnett, Bikson and Gonser poked fun at one another along the way. In the end, Barnett summed up their relationship: "In all honesty, we are the poster children for collaboration," he said.