Village officials discuss updates, developments during special joint meeting

By Susan Carroll

Review Writer

The Village of Lake Orion held a special joint meeting Monday night to update residents on what’s going on in the village and hear public comments on the development, goals and objectives of Lake Orion.

Department heads from six of the villages councils or committees gave updates at the meeting: the Lake Orion Village Council, the Planning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Downtown Development Authority, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and the Parking Study Ad-hoc Committee.

In his welcome and opening comments, Council President Ken VanPortfliet said that this type of meeting was the first time in his history at the village that a meeting such as this was held.

“We are one big team, the more we can continue, the more progress we can make,” he said.

There were ten presentations given in the hour-and-a-half long meeting, and the representatives remained after the meeting, answering questions on a one-on-one basis.

The topics and presentations included:

Water Main Replacement Project

The $8 million, four phase project is moving forward and bids were received last week. The lowest bid was 7 percent over the estimated bid price.

Eddie Zmich of Hubbell, Roth & Clark Engineering (HRC) said it is not uncommon to receive bids higher than anticipated, taking into consideration supply and demand, increases in aggregate pricing and not having as many trucking companies available as in the past.

HRC is checking all references and going over pre-qualifications and should award the project in May at the village council meeting.

Construction on phase one and two is scheduled to start after July 4.

Included in the water main replacement project is taking care of 1/3 of the fire hydrants, and the other 2/3 will be replaced along with phase 3 and phase 4 of the project.

MDOT M-24 Project

“M-24 is in pretty bad condition,” said Sandra Montes, manager of MDOT Metro Region, adding that the $15 million project is not slated to be funded until 2020.

The project will go through four different communities and includes the southern end of the village, north of Clarkston Road, and will continue all the way through Oxford.

In the meantime, the worst areas of the road will be “band-aided” with patching and mill and resurface treatments of the worst areas.

There will also be a pedestrian crossing installed at Pelton’s Point and a raised median through that section of the road to “calm traffic and get it to slow down.”

Indianwood and Axford roads will be reconfigured and the current service drive will no longer go through. The businesses, including the Lake Orion Post Office, will have access directly from M-24.

Road Commission for Oakland County

Tom Blust, director of engineering at the RCOC head of engineering, and a roundabout expert, discussed the installation of the proposed mini-roundabout to be constructed at the intersection of Orion, Flint and Miller roads beginning in July.

“Roundabouts reduce crashes by 75 percent and fatalities by 95 percent,” he said.

Redevelopment Ready Community (RRC)

The RRC helps communities become more efficient and supports their development and growth.

They provide technical assistance, review plans, processes and practices. They help with outreach, zoning regulations and community prosperity.

There are currently 220 communities engaged with the RRC and there is no cost to the community for the service.

Planning and Zoning

Village planners from McKenna & Associates discussed Lake Orion’s Master Plan and zoning ordinances.

“There’s a lot going on in the village,” said McKenna President John Jackson, who does the planning and zoning for Lake Orion.

The benefits of a master plan is that if helps engage the public, helps obtain funding and points out opportunities in the community. It will also identify obstacles and help eliminate them, he said.

A master plan ties all things together, and the last plan for Lake Orion was done in 2008. The village plans to update its master plan this year and will also look at how land will be used in the future, rezoning and integrating planning and zoning ordinances.

Parks and Recreation

The Parks & Recreation Master Plan was adopted in 2017.

There are six parks in the Lake Orion community and the Parks & Recreation Committee has done a great job with very little money, said VanPortfliet. The committee will focus on Paint Creek bank stabilization at Meeks and Children’s parks. The banks have eroded between 12-15 feet.

The committee continues to look for funding to improve and maintain the parks, he said.

The millage ballot proposal Parks & Recreation was on the agenda but not discussed during the meeting.

Orion Township Fire Station renovation project

Fire Station #1 on Anderson Street in the village is currently in the rebuild phase and demolition on the project has been completed.

The station was established in 1980 and served as a volunteer-only department until 2015. Currently there are 16 paid on-call and 22 full time firefighters serving the four fire stations in the community.

The footprint will be the same and there will now be two vehicle bays instead of three to make way for the updates to the facility.

A public restroom will be installed and the lot between the fire station and the Orion Art Center will become a 19-space public parking lot.

All construction is on target with a completion date of Aug. 24.

Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Update

Executive Director Moly LaLone gave an overview of the recent accomplishments of the DDA, including selling their building which is now Fork & Pint restaurant, completing and building the Paint Creek Trail extension and installing a welcome area to the Orion Art Center.

The DDA has completed the wayfinding designs for new signage throughout the downtown area, and has started sending out weekly e-newsletters and won the Spirit of Main Street Award.

The DDA is currently working on downtown brand marketing, wayfinding, parking, business recruitment and finding grants for projects.

Downtown Parking Strategy

The parking study committee knows there is an issue with parking in the village and they are looking for ways to implement new strategies to improve parking now and in the future. They will be putting together a master plan for strategic parking.

A few ideas they are looking into is one-way streets, angled parking and obtaining the use of all current available parking areas.

Jeff Schmitz of JS Capital Group is the developer of the four-story apartment and commercial building being constructed on Broadway Street near Paint Creek.

He purchased the Pet Center property and is working with the village on logistics on how to improve parking in that area.

One idea on the table is to build a parkway from the lots on Anderson Street to Broadway Street, tearing down the building that houses the hair salon to make that happen.

The parkway would have a water feature and would help beatify the downtown area, he said.

International Full Feature Film

Police Chief Jerry Narsh said that the International full feature film, Dawn of the Nain Rouge, partially filmed in the village, was a “tremendous benefit to our community.”

The film is a police suspense thriller, and 16 Lake Orion police offers were in the film, none of which were paid for their participation.

Narsh said that opening night of the film will be from the Midwest to LA and the Emagine Theater in Rochester Hills will serve as the area’s “Red Carpet Theatre.” All screens will be showing the debut and the village police department is under contract to receive 50 percent of the opening day proceeds from that theatre.

Narsh said that money will go directly into their programs, such as Kids & Kops.

Village Goals and Objectives

A handout was made available at the meeting on the 2018-19 vision, mission, values, goals and objectives of the Village of Lake Orion. A copy can be obtained by contacting the village office.

Although the details of the goals and objectives were not discussed, President VanPortfliet said, “We are always looking for your input. We want you to get back to us, we want to follow up. We are a vibrant community, at an all-time high, wouldn’t be here without all of your help.”