Anonymous group protests Hills building height change

A group calling itself “Farmington Hills Unites” has mounted a campaign –  via U.S. mail and social media – against a proposed city zoning change that would increase commercial building height limits.

An anonymous postcard sent last week and a Facebook page both called the change “yet another step on the road to more traffic and higher buildings. We aren’t (and don’t want to be) another SOUTHFIELD!”.

But a city planning official said, while building heights may increase, the amendment also caps the number of stories. “We’re not adding any utility,” Director of Planning and Community Development Ed Gardiner said.

As an example, the building height limit in the city’s OS-4 Office/Research district is currently 40 feet. With 10-to-12-foot ceilings, that’s three stories.

If the text amendment is approved, the building height limit would be 50 feet, with a cap of three stories, Gardiner said. That would accommodate the trend toward taller first floors, storage of equipment between floors, and allow for a higher, peaked roof, without the builder having to obtaining a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

“We’re just allowing people to build better buildings in our zoning districts,” Gardiner said.

He added that the Planning Commission always reviews and tries to improve ordinances. A planning consultant brought up the height issue in the past, noting changes in architectural standards.

Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 31555 W. 11 Mile Rd. The full agenda is posted at fhgov.com.

Farmington Voice attempted to contact the Farmington Hills Unites group for comment. No one responded to a message sent to the Facebook group administrator, and there was no other contact information listed.

To review the Planning Commission’s September discussion of the proposed amendment, visit fhgov.com/Government/Agendas-Minutes/Planning-Commission/2019.aspx