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Farmington, Farmington Hills Greet New Officials, Consider Ordinance Changes in 2011

Local elections bring out a record number of candidates in Farmington.

New city council members in Farmington and Farmington Hills, more sharing and changes in cable television and recycling agreements marked a busy year in local government. 

Here's a look back at what went on at both city halls in 2011:

Farmington

  • Officials started the year with as city manager Vince Pastue presented a 5-year budget forecast that showed the city $170,000 in the red by 2015. The biggest area of concern, he said, is retiree health care costs. 
  • Despite a slight loss, the 2010 census brought good news, as . Dropping below that figure would have affected the city's state and federal funding. 
  • City officials this fall with the Farmington Masonic Lodge for use of the parking lot adjacent to at Farmington Rd. and Oakland St. The city agreed to fix and maintain the lot, in exchange for using the lot to help ease parking congestion on the north side of Grand River. 
  • As the 2011 city council elections approached, council members both announced they would be leaving public office. Wiggins resigned due to conflicts with a class he was teaching at Ferris State University, and Knol said she would not seek re-election because of increased work responsibilities. While council member David Wright originally filed for election, he withdrew his petitions and did not run.
  • Open seats drew eight candidates for the November election, a number city officials said exceeded filings for at least the past 20 years. In addition, eight people applied to fill the balance of Wiggins' term. 
  • In October, city council members to fill Wiggins' unexpired term. In November, newcomer and veteran incumbent to 4-year terms and to a 2-year term on council.

Farmington Hills

  • City manager Steve Brock that departments were being asked to cut a total of $1.5 million from their budgets in 2011-2012. About $2 million of the city's fund balance would be used as well. 
  • Officials in June hired to replace , who resigned in May.
  • Medical marijuana remained a thorny issue as officials waded through a quagmire created when Michigan voters approved the Medical Marihuana Act in 2008, which allows approved patients to use the drug and caregivers to maintain plants for a limited number of patients. In August, on land uses that involve medical marijuana, after that would have regulated caregivers. 
  • The newly remodeled "green" city hall , the second-highest level of green building achievement offered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
  • In a development bright spot, , a gated development of homes expected to sell for around $300,000. Neighbors of the development, located south of 13 Mile Rd. and east of Halsted Rd., expressed concerns about drainage and other issues, which were addressed in the final agreement for what is now known as Forest Estates. 
  • Seven people filed for three seats on city council in November; voters returned incumbents and , and elected newcomer . ran unopposed for mayor. 
  • After residents complained about wandering through their neighborhoods, city council members considered changing a city ordinance to include bows and crossbows in a city-wide ban on firearms. after council member Nancy Bates questioned whether the ban was an over-reaction.

Shared services

  • In September and October, Farmington, Farmington Hills and Novi city councils approved  that will alter the way  operates. SWOCC produces government programming and provides facilities for residents to produce and air their own cable shows. The new agreement eliminated the position of executive director and put more management responsibility in the hands of the cities. 
  • The Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County (RRRASOC), which includes Farmington and Farmington Hills, announced it is moving to and will begin accepting wide-mouth plastics in 2012. Customers will no longer have to sort recyclables before putting them out on the curb. 
  • Farmington and Farmington Hills officials moved forward with a that will oversee redevelopment along Grand River, a major thoroughfare running through both cities. 
  • As 2011 came to a close, both cities took a long look at in light of route cuts that significantly lowered service levels in both cities. Farmington and Farmington Hills city councils must decide this month whether to "opt out" of the system and pursue other transportation alternatives, as a vote to approve another millage that supports the system goes before voters in August. 

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