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Those interested in volunteering for a position on one of the many city boards or committees can fill out an application online here or pick a paper application in the City Clerk’s Office.
A student application is available to download at: https://www.romi.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1278
City sewers can only handle a certain amount of flow, and when sewers are overloaded, they can back-up into residents’ basements. To avoid this problem, the city uses catch basin covers that limit how fast water can enter the sewer system. These restricted catch basin covers cause temporary ponding on residential streets during rain storms. The ponded water is typically less than 12 inches deep at the edge of the road. This allows vehicles to drive through the center of the road (with caution) where the water is less deep. Because the restricted catch basin covers have only two or four openings (slots), it is easy for leaves, grass clippings, debris, etc. to clog the openings and cause excess street flooding. If you see a clogged cover, you can help your entire street by clearing the debris! The DPS and Engineering Division also work their way through the city to help clear off clogged catch basins covers.
Naturally occurring mineral deposits that accumulate within the water main get stirred up and become suspended particles, thus producing the discoloration in the water. Discolored water is temporary, and while unappealing, it is not harmful.
SOLUTION:Residents should run the cold water faucet closest to the meter (usually located in the basement or outside hose bib) for several minutes until the water runs clear. If the water does not clear after 20 minutes of flushing, contact the Department of Public Service at (248) 246-3300. Residents should avoid running hot water or washing clothes while water is discolored.
dictates that all sidewalks within the City shall be kept and maintained in good repair by the owner of the land adjacent to and abutting upon it. If any owner shall neglect to keep and maintain the sidewalk along the front, rear, or side of the land owned by him in good repair and safe for the use of the public, the owner shall be liable to the City for any damages recovered against the City sustained by any person by reason of such sidewalk being unsafe and out of repair.
The City of Royal Oak prides itself on being a walkable community and puts great efforts to provide a safe and complete sidewalk network. Our codes and ordinances are written so that we can monitor, repair and add to the network accordingly.
In 2019 the city commission directed the engineering division to begin a new six-year sidewalk program beginning in Spring 2020.
City Ordinance §650-17 dictates that all sidewalks within the City shall be kept and maintained in good repair by the owner of the land adjacent to and abutting upon it. If any owner shall neglect to keep and maintain the sidewalk along the front, rear, or side of the land owned by him in good repair and safe for the use of the public, the owner shall be liable to the City for any damages recovered against the City sustained by any person by reason of such sidewalk being unsafe and out of repair.
The property owner may elect to replace the problem public sidewalk by hiring a contractor to perform the work. That contractor must obtain a Right-of-Way Permit through the city engineering division prior to beginning work. The work must be completed BEFORE the city’s contractor arrives on that street.
Additional public sidewalk replacement may be added to the scheduled work for a property. Contact the engineering division to schedule an appointment with the inspector and have the necessary paperwork executed. It should be noted that once started, the program and contractor moves quickly, and requests for additional work should be made immediately after receiving the notification letter.
The property owner may contact the city’s contractor directly to arrange for the installation of any driveway or approach work; however this work cannot be added to the city’s sidewalk contract and shall be contracted directly with the contractor.
Property owners will be billed by the City for the sidewalk work with one bill in the beginning of the following year. The bill shall be paid in full within 30 days or as noted on the invoice. Unpaid bills will be added to the tax role of properties as required.
Property owners may request a payment plan for the sidewalk work, which must be approved by the city commission. Once approved, payment plans will be billed through the treasurer’s office. They are typically spread over six years with a maximum 6% interest rate. Interest rates and time periods are established by the city commission prior to billing. Payment plans can be paid off at any time without penalty; contact the treasurer’s office for a payoff amount. Currently, this is the only payment plan offered by the city.
In addition to the criteria for replacing deficient sidewalk, the city commission also authorized the installation of new sidewalks adjacent to properties currently not providing 5 foot wide concrete sidewalks. This fulfills the City’s master plans and non-motorized plan of a complete walkable community, to continue to expand the sidewalk network so that pedestrians can traverse to all areas and access all properties safely.
The property owner should contact the engineering division and schedule an appointment to meet with the inspector who will explain the required criteria and note why sidewalks meet specific criteria. If the property owner further disagrees with the assessment, they may submit a written request for exemption which will be reviewed by the city engineer, who will respond in writing.
The sidewalk program typically begins in early June and continues to the end of October. In any particular location, the sidewalk will be removed and replaced within a matter of days up to one week. New concrete sidewalks placed in a driveway location cannot be driven on for 7 days. Adjacent pavement and lawn restoration will be performed as the contractor progresses through the target area and will be completed before the end of the contract. Property owners can help by watering newly planted grass seed to ensure its growth.
The city or its contractor will provide advance written notice the day beforehand to any property affected with sidewalk to be removed and replaced across the driveway. The notice, a door hanger, will be placed in the door of the affected property alerting the property owner to have all necessary vehicles moved to the street where parking is allowed. The city will not enforce special parking areas during the construction. Parking is not allowed on major roads. Barricades may be placed at drive locations until it is safe to drive on the new pavement.
The city’s contractor has been instructed to take special care when building sidewalks around sprinkler systems. As stated in the notification letter, property owners are required to mark their sprinklers so that these locations are clear to the contractor. The contractor will repair or replace any marked sprinkler that becomes damaged from the work. Private sprinklers located on city right-of-way that are not marked by the property owner prior to sidewalk construction will not be repaired if damaged.
This work is included in the construction of sidewalk. Tree roots will be removed adjacent to marked sidewalk panels where possible. In some instances, where space is available, the sidewalk may be curved around a tree. The property owner is responsible to repair the sidewalks regardless of the location or owner of the tree. City trees will not be removed unless the Parks & Forestry division deems the tree unhealthy or too large for the space where the tree is intended to grow.
Monies will be collected from sales and excise taxes collected from retail stores called Provisioning Centers. Every sale, whether for marijuana products or non-marijuana products, at a state licensed provisioning center is subject to both a six-percent sales tax and ten-percent excise tax. The taxes are collected by the store and paid to the State of Michigan where each tax is then redistributed back to each community based on a formula whereby municipalities share in the net funds received.
For the marijuana excise tax, the participating municipalities will get one-unit share of the fund for each licensed store in its community. If Royal Oak has one store it would get one-unit share, if it had five stores, it would get five-unit shares. For additional information, please see the go to the link from the Michigan Department of Treasury:
With respect to fees collected, Royal Oak could require up to $5,000 for each new application processed as well as an additional $5,000 annually for renewal. The fee would have to be reasonably related to the cost of administering and enforcing the MMRTM Act.
In addition to the application fees, as with any commercial business in the city, each facility would be subject to permitted fees, inspection fees and increase in property value assessment causing additional revenues for the city.
If Royal Oak were to opt out, it will not receive any of the funds from taxes collected by the MMRTM Act.
For additional information on the program, please visit: https://www.michigan.gov/marijuana
The reason Royal Oak is an attractive destination for any commercial enterprise is its ability to provide essential city services; including outstanding police and fire departments, efficient and professional public services, modernized infrastructure. Geographically, Royal Oak is ideally located for commercial enterprises.
There is no evidence to support the assertion development would be diminished with the inclusion of commercial marijuana businesses.
As stated in Royal Oak’s municipal code, the Historic District Study Committee (HDSC) was established to “provide for the establishment of historic districts in carrying out the public purpose of historic preservation in the City of Royal Oak, consistent with the State of Michigan Local Historic Districts Act” (§ 82-3). A historic district is “an area, or group of areas not necessarily having contiguous boundaries, that contains one resource or a group of resources that are related by history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture” (§ 82-3).
There are currently 13 historic districts within the city of Royal Oak that have been designated as such by the HDSC. These districts are listed in the Royal Oak municipal code Ch. 82, Articles IV-XVI:
Properties in Royal Oak cannot be designated historic without owner permission.
“In evaluating the significance of historic resources, the Committee shall be guided by the selection criteria for evaluation issued by the United States Secretary of the Interior for inclusion of resources in the National Register of Historic Places, as set forth in 36 CFR Part 60, and criteria established or approved by the Bureau, if any” (§82-9).
A property may be designated historic if it is a “publicly or privately owned building, structure, site, object, feature or open space that is significant in the history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture of the City of Royal Oak, the State of Michigan, or the United States” (§82-2). More specifically, the HDSC applies criteria from the US Department of Interior,
National Park Service: “the quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and:
A. That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the
broad patterns of our history; or
B. That are associated with the lives of significant persons in our past; or
C. That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of
construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
D. That have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in history or
The most important benefit is preserving Royal Oak history, both in neighborhoods as well as downtown (and perhaps spurring cultural heritage tourism). According to the Michigan Historic Preservation Network’s report published in 2016, there is also less of a possibility of demolition, as well as some economic benefit, such as higher actualized resale value. The Local Historic Districts Act of 1970, which allows cities to establish ordinances to “regulate the construction, addition, alteration, repair, moving, excavation, and demolition of resources in historic districts within the limits of the local unit,” describes the following as reasons for historic preservation:
(a) Safeguard the heritage of the local unit by preserving 1 or more historic districts in
the local unit that reflect elements of the unit's history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture.
(b) Stabilize and improve property values in each district and the surrounding areas.
(c) Foster civic beauty.
(d) Strengthen the local economy.
(e) Promote the use of historic districts for the education, pleasure, and welfare of the citizens of the local unit and of the state.” (§399.202)
The State of Michigan discontinued tax incentives for historic properties, but it is possible these incentives may be reinstated in the future.
Quite a bit of research, verification, and writing go into designating city properties as historic. The State requires a great deal of information and adherence to specific guidelines. (Consult the link to Local Historic Districts in Michigan manual for more information regarding everything that must go into the reports.) However, the HDSC cannot designate properties in Royal Oak as historic without owner permission. This is the first step. A property owner must first contact the HDSC and attend a meeting to request a study on the property, should they have a reasonable belief that their property meets a criterion/criteria for designation. The HDSC then conducts some research into the property to establish facts, and if enough is available, committee members visit the property to take measurements, photos, and observe documents or specific
features of the property. Research continues by the committee, who write a preliminary report following State guidelines. This preliminary report is sent to the State, City Planning Department, Mayor and City Commission. The State Historic Preservation Office must review the report (which could take six to eight weeks) and the HDSC must address any comments, and make additions or corrections before publishing the final report that is once again distributed to the State and City members. The Planning Department reads the report and meets with the HDSC to determine whether it recommends or disapproves of the study. If approved by the Planning Department, the report is forwarded to the City for their review at a City Commission meeting. When the City approves the historic designation, the property owner must be present at the meeting to verify their acceptance. Following this, the City Attorney prepares an ordinance regarding the property and the owner receives a copy of the final report for their records.
The HDSC charges a modest cost to cover the clerical work (primarily printing costs) involved in preparing the preliminary and final reports. If a property is designated historic, the property owner may choose to purchase approved official signage through the HDSC.
Changes to the interior, unless they affect the integrity of the exterior, do not require review, or approval by the Historic District Commission (HDC).
Changes to the exterior need to be addressed as follows:
• The request for change is taken to the Building Department at City Hall along with any contracts.
• The Building Department contacts the HDC chairperson.
• The HDC chairperson convenes its members, sets a date for review, and notifies the Building Department, who in turn, notifies the property owner of the date to attend this review. Contractors should be included.
• Following review and discussion, the HDC will vote to
2. Not approve
3. Partial approval
• Notification is given to the Building Department within the next business day.
• The HDC reports are the methods for noting changes in the historically designated properties for future reference.
Please contact our chairperson, Ruth Cleaveland, at 248-547-6217.
Successful candidates are ranked on the eligibility list in order of their final score in the examination.
For all positions, 5 extra credit points will be given to those people who meet veteran status requirements and provide proof thereof; typically by means of a DD-214 form.
Police officer and firefighter candidates also receive 1 extra credit point for each 30 college credit hours in excess of the minimum requirement of 60 credit hours.
Police Officer candidates receive 5 extra points if they are either enrolled in, or have completed the police academy.
Promotional eligibility lists are valid for 1 or 2 years, depending on the bargaining unit agreement covering the position.
Suitability for the position may be determined using a multitude of ways, including additional application requirements such as a cover a letter or questionnaire, as well as practical and personality testing and one or more rounds of oral interviews.
We kindly request that you contact human resources at x3070 or send us an email ahead of a visit to our office. Prior notice will allow us some time to research and prepare a proper response your question.
Please note that any requests for copies of pay stubs, annual tax statements such as W-2's, or retiree pay information must be directed to the Finance department.
Human resources is happy to answer any questions you may have about your exit payment (the final payout you receive following the last day of employment) or post-retirement benefits.
Retirees must contact the finance department instead. IRS Forms & Publications
Contact the organization you work or have worked for with any questions pertaining to employment there.
MDHHS is headquartered in Lansing and provides public assistance, child and family welfare services, and oversees health policy and management. Additionally, the MDHHS oversees Michigan's child and adult protective services, foster care, adoptions, juvenile justice, domestic violence, and child support programs. The MDHHS also licenses adult foster care, child day care and child welfare facilities.
For contact information to the different MDHHS offices, please visit the link below. Michigan Department of Health & Human Services
Questions directly related to your retiree benefits, medicare reimbursements, etc. can be directed to human resources.
A scientific survey is being utilized to ensure a proper representation of November 2018 Royal Oak voters are reached. Additionally, the March 4 town hall (and any future town hall or public meetings scheduled) are advertised on the city’s social media outlets; our website and announced through the eBlast News which is delivered via email to every household in Royal Oak who has registered.
Available statistics do not indicate a rise in criminal activity in Michigan communities that currently house medical marijuana commercial enterprises. Business operators protect their properties and their investment with state-of-the-art security measures.
While you may not think it seems to fit, a majority of Royal Oak voters did approve the ballot initiative that, among other things, legalized the recreational / adult-use marijuana statewide. Recreational adult use marijuana is now legal and Royal Oak has no authority under state law to change that. We cannot say how it might benefit families and children, other than if the city allows commercial marijuana business there is a potential for some financial gain through a share of the excise tax, however, even if we were to be a part of this, there is no way to forecast how much money the city could gain.
Positive economic impact would include the collection of fees for business licensing procedures, which have to be reasonably related to the administering and enforcing of the MMRTM Act; property taxes and the inclusion for revenue sharing with the State of Michigan.
Voters may have had different reasons for approving the proposal to decriminalize marijuana. Those reasons may or may not include having commercial marijuana enterprises in their community.
The city cannot defy state law. It is now lawful for individuals 21-years of age and older to use marijuana -- as long as those individuals are legally possessing and using marijuana.
If a resident is on their private property using marijuana legally (over the age of 21-years and have 2.5 ounces or less), the Royal Oak Police Department cannot stop them.
This is one of the questions the city needs to address and why the city commission is seeking opinions from voters. If Royal Oak decides this is a use they would like to permit, lease agreements for individuals having private events would need to be amended to cover provisions for allowing marijuana to be consumed legally at private events and insurance requirements for those individuals would need to be considered.
We cannot say with any certainty how this new law will affect any of our special events, however, certain violations, like smoking marijuana in public, will be strictly enforced by the police department.
SOCRRA stands for Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority, and is a municipal corporation in which Royal Oak is a member. All of our recycling contracts are coordinated through SOCRRA and our recyclable materials go to their facility on Coolidge, just north of 14 Mile.
Police Chief O’Donohue personally does not think marijuana is safe. However, he believes if the state regulations work as advertised, a person who purchases marijuana from a licensed provisioning center should at least have a better understanding on the strain and THC content of the marijuana they are purchasing.
At this time, there is no evidence to support the legalization of marijuana will create a significant rise in serious crimes. Law enforcement anticipates legalized marijuana will result in lower level violations and quality of life issues.
As with the question above, Police Chief O’Donohue does not anticipate any significant increase in serious crime. Lower level violations and quality of life issues are the police department’s main concern.
The passage of this law means we have a new normal for law enforcement and do not yet know exactly what will happen. To the degree possible, law enforcement will not allow personal biases to influence how the laws are enforced.
The law only addresses licensed provisioning centers and limits the daily amount to 2.5 ounces per day, however, there does appear to be several loopholes that might potentially allow for higher amounts and sales outside of licensed facilities. Also, actually enforcing illegal sales will be difficult, if not impossible.
There is no way to project who may choose to purchase marijuana for their personal use.
There is no readily available roadside test.
Police Chief O’Donohue believes that the passage of this law will make marijuana more prevalent and accessible, including for minors. However, he believes will be the case regardless of whether Royal Oak allows provisioning centers (retail outlets.)
The legal age of possession or use of marijuana is 21, as verified by a government-issued ID.
Steps taken during the last two decades have reduced exposures to lead in tap water. These steps include actions taken under requirements of the 1986 and 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Actexternal icon and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Lead and Copper Ruleexternal icon. Even so, lead in water can come from homes with lead service lines that connect the home to the main water line. Homes without lead service lines may still have brass or chrome-plated brass faucets, galvanized iron pipes or other plumbing soldered with lead. Some drinking water fountains with lead-lined tanks and other plumbing fixtures not intended for drinking water (e.g., lab faucets, hoses, spigots, hand washing sinks) may also have lead in the water.
Lead can enter drinking water when a chemical reaction occurs in plumbing materials that contain lead. This is known as corrosion – dissolving or wearing away of metal from the pipes and fixtures. This reaction is more severe when water has high acidity or low mineral content. How much lead enters the water is related to:
Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention
The State of Michigan recommends the following ways to protect yourself from lead water:
Flush your pipes before using your water.
If you have not used your water for several hours, flushing your pipes may reduce the amount of soluble (dissolved) lead in your drinking water.
To flush the pipes in your home, do any of the following for at least five minutes:
After flushing your home’s water, run the water from individual faucets on cold for 1-2 minutes before using the water for drinking or cooking.
Using a filter can reduce lead in drinking water.
Both particulate and soluble lead can be safely removed from drinking water by using a water filter certified to reduce lead in drinking water. Look for filters that are tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the filter and maintain it. For help choosing a filter, use the EPA guidance tool.
Use cold filtered or flushed water for:
Do not use hot water for drinking or cooking.
Clean your aerator.
Replace plumbing, pipes, and faucets that may add lead into your drinking water.
Older faucets, fittings, and valves sold before 2014 may contain up to 8 percent lead, even if marked “lead-free.” Replace faucets with products manufactured in 2014 or later and are certified to contain 0.25% lead or less.
Guidance for reducing potential lead exposure from drinking water (English & Spanish)
National Public Radio (NPR) has developed a website that allows you to determine whether your drinking water is at risk in a few simple steps.
We are asking residents to use the tool and report the results to the Royal Oak Department of Public Services.
Click here to get started.
Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead exposure. Lead exposure can cause premature birth, reduce birth weight, delay physical and mental development in babies and young children, and cause learning disabilities in children. In adults, lead exposure can cause serious damage to the brain, nervous system, kidneys, and red blood cells. Lifetime exposure to high levels of lead can potentially cause stroke or kidney disease.
Source: Oakland County Health Division
The city has multiple strategies for working on this issue, which include:
Sharing information. Through this advisory and other community engagement efforts, the city is committed to sharing information that can help residents understand sources of lead in tap water, its potential health effects, and how to reduce exposure to it.
Increasing sampling. The city will double its community sampling efforts over the next year in order to provide additional information to the state.
Locating lead. In order to build an accurate inventory of lead service lines, the Department of Public Services is encouraging homeowners to report their service line materials through an online form. The online form can be found at romi.gov/wsld
Removing lead. Starting next year, the city will begin replacing lead service lines at a rate of 7% per year.
You cannot see, smell, or taste lead in drinking water. If you suspect that your home’s plumbing or faucets could contain lead or lead-based solder, you should have your water tested. Testing your water for lead is the only way to know if it is there. If you are on a municipal water system, your water is tested for lead and other potential contaminants. A Consumer Confidence Report that includes testing results is sent annually to water users. You can obtain a copy of your report by contacting your water supplier. If the lead is above 15 parts per billion (ppb) in municipal water supply, the supplier is required to inform the public. A list of laboratories that test for lead can be found here: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/Lead__Copper_Lab_Certs_526434_7.pdf
Contact a testing lab before having your water tested to confirm that they can test for lead, and obtain specific instructions for how you will collect, store, and transport the sample(s) you get from your home. There is a cost for having drinking water tested.
The Oakland County Health Division Laboratory also tests water for lead and copper for county residents. (Water source must be IN OAKLAND COUNTY)
Royal Oak residents can purchase a bottle for testing from one of the County office locations during normal business hours. Their address and phone numbers are:
The cost for the bottle and drinking water analysis is $24.
The results of the analysis will be mailed within 10-14 business days.
The State of Michigan has a website called Mi Lead Safe that includes many resources including:
Learn more at www.michigan.gov/mileadsafe
Per the Lead and Copper Rule of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, the city is required to periodically sample a number of water taps throughout its system for lead concentration levels. In 2018, the sampling protocol for this routine sampling changed to require multiple samples at each sample location and to exclusively target locations served by lead service lines. The intention of this change was to better detect lead.
According to the rule, if approximately 10% of sites sampled indicate lead concentrations of 15 parts-per-billion (ppb) or greater, the city is required to:
Eight of the 30 locations tested during the most recent monitoring period exceeded the 15 ppb ‘Action Level’ threshold, triggering the current advisory. The city’s 90th percentile value for lead concentrations among sites tested was 23 ppb.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has detailed information to help you understand certification marks as well as terminology regarding drinking water filters. Click here for flyer.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has this flyer that explains what an aerator does and steps you can take to help keep it clean.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has this flyer that explains what an aerator does and steps you can take to help keep it clean.
The Department of Public Services already has a list of sampling locations it uses for compliance testing. To the extent possible, the sampling rules require the city to resample previous sites during each monitoring period. Therefore, the department is limited in its ability to add additional locations.
By submitting your service line inspection results on the city’s website, you’ll be added to our records. Should additional sites be needed for testing, staff will seek volunteers from this list, in needed.
To determine if your home has a lead water service line please go to: romi.gov/wsld
For more detailed information on Lead contamination please visit:
If Royal Oak decides to allow commercial marijuana enterprise, it will be up to the city commission ultimately to determine the number of businesses; which types of business and to amend the zoning ordinance as to where the businesses would be allowed. Restrictions regarding schools and churches that are written into the state law cannot be made more lenient only stricter. Therefore, those limits cannot be eliminated, only made larger.
There are six types of commercial marijuana enterprises permitted under the Michigan Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act:
1. Provisioning – sales or what you may commonly refer to as retail
2. Secure Transport – moving of product from one commercial enterprise to another
3. Safety Compliance – tests product for contaminants and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels
4. Processing - purchases marijuana from a grower and extracts resin from the marijuana or creates a marijuana-infused product for sale
5. Growers - licensed to cultivate, dry, trim, or cure and package marihuana for sale
6. Microbusiness - A licensee who can grow 150 plants, process on site and sell directly to adults 21 years or older (cannot sell to any other licensee, i.e. Provisioning | Retail
Under the MMRTM Act, a recreational / adult-use marijuana establishment many not allow the cultivation, processing, sale, or display of marijuana or marijuana accessories to be visible from a public place outside of the establishment with the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids.
Yes. The city commission has voted to opt out with a sunset date of February 1, 2020. The State of Michigan has until December 6, 2019 to establish the rules. If the city commission determines they would like to participate in commercial marijuana enterprises prior to the February 20, 2020 sunset date, they could vote to amend the date. Or, they could simply allow the sunset date to expire and participate in commercial marijuana enterprises as of February 21, 2020. Should the city commission determine the city should opt out of the commercial marijuana enterprises, then the date could be amended, or opt out without an end date.
Under the MMRTM Act, the city commission has the authority to decided whether or not to allow recreational / adult-use marijuana establishments in the city, and if so, to limit the number of establishments, the type of establishment, and the zoning district in which the establishments would be allowed.
At this time, the federal government has indicated that as long as a state has a “strong and effective” system in place to regulate the cultivation, distribution, sale and possession of marijuana; federal law enforcement interests are not undermined by the legalization of marijuana to some extent.
You need to have official identification showing your name and permanent address. We won't make copies of it, but we do need to see the following:
If you are under 18 years of age and are not an emancipated minor, you must have the signature of your parent or guardian on the application cards in order to be issued a card. If your parent or guardian is not a current ROPL library card holder, they must show the same proofs of residency listed above.
You can get a jump-start on the process with our online application here: https://www.romi.gov/FormCenter/Library-6/Library-Card-Registration-Form-48 and then bring your proof of address when you stop by to get your card.
Yes! Bring your Troy card and your photo ID to the check out desk and you may check out up to 10 items and place up to 3 on hold.
You may use your card at any of the 50 libraries in the TLN network: https://tln.lib.mi.us/md. There are also some "standalone" libraries where you can use your card: Baldwin, Bloomfield Township, Canton, Clarkston, Dearborn, Farmington Hills, Grosse Pointe, Howell Carnegie, Northfield Township, Orion Township, Pinckney, Plymouth, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak Township, St. Clair County Library, Saline, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township, Westland, and Ypsilanti. We have a reciprocal borrowing agreement with Troy Public Library as well. But wait, there's more! If you ask for a MI Library Card sticker for your card, you have access to even more libraries in Michigan: http://milibrarycard.org/partcipating.html. Please call or visit any of these libraries if you are interested in utilizing these great resources.
You may have up to 100 items checked out at any time.
You may have up to 15 unfilled holds on your account. Any holds that are waiting for you on the shelf do not count towards your limit of 15. Also, your holds will stay on the shelf for seven (7) days, so make sure you get them before they're gone!
The 2018 Royal Oak Area Preschool and Child Care Directory provides information on over 40 area facilities which includes area preschools, child care programs, K-8, educational approaches, special needs programs and specialty programs.
2018 Royal Oak Area Preschool and Child Care Directory (PDF)
We offer story times for a variety of ages. Please see our calendar for specific offerings.
The terms of Proposal 1 are as follows:
Under the terms passed by voters, residents 21 and up most likely won’t be able to legally purchase recreational marijuana from a retailer until early 2020.
The Michigan Municipal League has a comprehensive timeline and news stories on marijuana issues in communities throughout Michigan on its website.
This list contains a brief description of the types of marijuana-related businesses permitted under Michigan law.
For more detail, visit the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
LARA’s Bureau of Marijuana Regulation (BMR) is frequently asked why marijuana is sometimes spelled with an “h” and other times is spelled with a ”j.” Both spellings – marijuana and marihuana – are acceptable. To avoid confusion, many in the industry refer to the botanical plant — cannabis. While the spelling with a “j” is more common today, you will still see Michigan law using the “h” spelling.
The spelling of marijuana has a long history in the United States. Michigan’s history primarily starts from the spelling that was chosen for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Michigan adopted its statutory definition of marijuana in the Public Health Code, utilizing the then current federal spelling, marihuana.
As governing state laws spell marihuana with an “h,” BMR legal communication and references to statutes in relation to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act or the Michigan Medical Facilities Licensing Act or the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act – and the corresponding administrative rules will use an “h” in the spelling of Marihuana. In non-formal communication, “j” will generally be used.
An act of the Michigan Legislature would be required in order to change the spelling of marijuana in the Michigan statutes, such as the Public Health Code or the newer marijuana laws.
Prior to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana by individuals 21 and up, Michigan voters approved a referendum to enable patients and caregivers to legally obtain, possess, cultivate/grow, use, and distribute marijuana. The "Medical Marihuana Act" went into effect on December 4, 2008.
During the licensing process/period the planning division will only verify that a particular property is eligible -- i.e. zoned General Business or General Industrial and 1,000 feet from any K-12 schools. The planning division will not discuss specific site issues, zoning requirements or the special land use/site plan process until you have been awarded a “license slot” by the city manager.
An application for a recreational marihuana establishment license must be submitted online. An application cannot be submitted in person.
An applicant must pay a $500 document review fee at the time of application. Once the City has determined that the application contains all the information required under Section 435-4 of the ordinance, the applicant must pay an additional $4,500 application fee.
Neither the $500 document review fee nor the $4,500 application fee are refundable.
The application for a recreational marihuana establishment license will be available on the City’s website by mid-November.
The first person to apply for a recreational marihuana establishment license will not be guaranteed a license. The city manager will determine when the window for submitting an application will open and how long the window will be open. All complete applications submitted while the window is open will receive equal consideration.
The parking requirements for a recreational marihuana establishment are set forth in the City’s Zoning Ordinance.
A successful applicant will not be issued a recreational marihuana establishment license until the city is provided with a certificate of insurance that meets the requirements of the ordinance.
The spacing requirements for recreational marihuana establishments are set forth in the City’s Zoning Ordinance.
No marihuana retailer or marihuana microbusiness will be permitted within a 1,000-foot radius of any existing retailer or microbusiness within the City of Royal Oak.
The measurement of the distance from a recreational marihuana establishment is made from the outermost boundaries of the lot or parcel upon which the establishment is or would be located.
Pursuant to the City’s Zoning Ordinance, the Zoning Board of Appeals is authorized to grant a variance from the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance upon a showing of practical difficulty by the applicant.
An application for a recreational marihuana establishment license must include documentation of a valid legal interest in the property where the proposed establishment will be located.
Pursuant to State law, the information contained in an application for a recreational marihuana establishment license is exempt from disclosure under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
Click here for Marihuana Zoning Ordinance.
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An application for a recreational marihuana establishment license that has been determined to contain all of the required documentation will be reviewed by the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Community Development Department and any other applicable City department.
• New Years Day• Memorial Day• Independence Day• Labor Day• Thanksgiving (delayed Thursday and Friday only*)• Christmas Day*Thursday waste is picked up on Friday, and Friday waste is picked up on Saturday. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are picked up on the scheduled day.
When the city was first approached by Jeffrey Surnow, about three years ago, he expressed his vision for a mixed-use office building and/or hotel fronting a downtown park. The city was attracted to his history as someone who always looked to harmonize the commercial elements of a development with urban green spaces. At the time, the city had not decided where it would relocate current city and police operations, although the city was moving forward under the assumption that municipal buildings were not the best use for this site.
Sadly, Mr. Surnow passed away that spring, and there were no developments on the project until later that summer, when Mr. Surnow’s sons, Sam and Max, partnered with the Boji Group to try and bring the plan back into fruition. This new partnership, Central Park Development Group, is the entity of which most of the public is now familiar. They came back to the city with a much larger plan, incorporating the office and park elements of Jeff Surnow’s initial proposal, with a solution for the city’s needs: a new police station and a new City Hall, which would be located in the office building. This marriage of public and private was based upon a similar structure used for the State Senate offices in Lansing.
As discussions with this developer became more serious, the city retained Plante Moran CRESA (PMC) as its real estate advisor to vet the details of the proposal. Plante Moran has a long and distinguished history with large scale development projects, and in particular, municipal projects. They’ve been side-by-side with the city, not only examining the details of this particular project, but offering guidance to alternatives when the project would hit a roadblock. PMC was also tasked with performing a feasibility study on the city’s current City Hall and police station. Was it a viable alternative to invest in our current facilities instead of pursuing new ones? Their conclusion was no, citing that both buildings were functionally obsolete.
Locating City Hall within a speculative office building presented many legal and, to some extent, financial challenges, and we - the developer and the city - made the mutual decision to pursue a standalone building for City Hall operations. When this decision was made, the city also decided shortly thereafter that it was in its best interest to assume management and control of the city-owned portions of the project. That decision was made in April, and that is where the project currently stands.
The city is pursuing the development of a new police station (which is very deep into the design development process - nearly complete), a new City Hall, a downtown park, which hasn’t entered any stage of the design development process, and a parking structure. It is anticipated to close on its bond financing for the project in late 2017 or January 2018 A comprehensive overview of the project can be found here .
The private office building is solely being developed by CPDG.
On June 26, 2017, the commission released outside counsel to draft a development agreement that memorializes these terms into a development agreement. This development agreement was presented to the commission on August 28, 2017 and unanimously approved.
As summarized at the commission’s June 21, 2017 public work session, CPDG’s involvement with what has become known as the Royal Oak Civic Center (ROCC) project has drastically changed since the first public special meeting dedicated to the ROCC proposal was held on April 18, 2016. The city is no longer contemplating contracting with CPDG to perform the master development obligations for the city-owned projects in the ROCC (a new city hall, a new police department, a new parking deck and a new downtown park), nor is the city contemplating placing its operations into CPDG’s proposed private office building. As it stands today, CPDG’s sole responsibility would be construction of its proposed $37.8 million, 128,000 sf (rentable) office building, and the city would be responsible for the construction of the new police station, city hall, parking deck and downtown park. This structure is reflected in the proposed term sheet.
A term sheet was provided and presented to the public on June 26, 2017. The term sheet seeks financial assistance from the city and outlines a schedule by which the city and/or Downtown Development Authority (DDA) would recoup this investment. Given that a significant gap exists between the cost of construction of new office buildings in Southeast Michigan and the market rental rates the region commands, the request was expected. It is anticipated that the market rental rate for CPDG’s proposed building is approximately $30/sf, a rate has been verified by numerous commercial real estate firms in Southeast Michigan, as well as the city’s real estate consultants on this project, Plante Moran CRESA (PMC).
PMC analyzed CPDG’s design development package and verified to the extent possible the accuracy of the assumptions represented therein to determine the financial gap between what the building would cost and what rents the building could reasonably command. That gap was identified between $5 million and $10 million.
The chief difficulty with constructing a speculative office building is financing, and city discussions with CPDG and its lender focused upon the minimum amount the city could provide that, in addition to CPDG’s equity, would secure financing. That figure was identified at $5.5 million, the low end of CPDG’s financial gap and the request made in the proposed term sheet.
A summary of the financial investment being asked of the city is as follows:
In return, CPDG has agreed to the following in return for the city’s investment:
On June 26, 2017, the commission released outside counsel to draft a development agreement that memorializes these terms into a development agreement. Upon completion of this development agreement, the commission will be asked to provide the final vote in the affirmative or negative for the project. It is anticipated this agreement will be before the commission in late August or early September 2017.
Each of the buildings has numerous problems that could be repaired. However, the work required is so extensive as to approach the cost of replacement according to a study commissioned from Plante Moran Cresa which is available on the city’s website. They found both buildings “functionally obsolete.”
Neither building was designed for the kind of use the city needs from it today and in the future. They were built for a time when manual typewriters and carbon paper were considered high tech. This is especially problematic in the police department which simply doesn’t have room for the equipment it needs today.
City Hall wasn’t even designed to be a City Hall, or even an office building to begin with. The architect modified a plan he already had for a school building. According to one of our local historians, the plans were given to the city free of charge. One look at the overall design of the building -- the extra wide hallways and stairwells -- and it’s clear it was modeled after a school. It’s broken up into a lot of small spaces separated by load bearing walls. It even has a central clock system which quit working after the most recent flood.
Unfortunately, what makes for a good school design does not make for a good City Hall. This building simply does not work well and it never did. Renovating it would make it look better and might solve the heating, cooling, and electrical problems but it wouldn’t make it work better. It would still be an extremely poor design.
There is a logistical problem too. Renovating would require moving all of the employees to another location while the renovations are done, then moving them back. There isn’t a suitable facility in Royal Oak to serve as a temporary City Hall. The city would probably end up renting portable office trailers and putting them in the parking lot.
Finally, the aspect of this project that seems to have the most overwhelming public support is the downtown park. It’s also the amenity that makes the private office development most attractive. The park is planned for the location of the current city hall and police building. If City Hall operations don’t move, there is not a place for the park.
Improved customer service
The site under consideration would front a new downtown park, located directly east of Troy St. Once the decision was made to pursue a standalone building, many alternatives were considered on the overall site. There isn’t a portion of the site that wasn’t considered. The city even (briefly) looked at placing it in the proposed parking structure.
Ultimately, the commission voted in January on its current placement, which adds a dynamic element to the park while reinforcing the civic aspect to the overall site plan.
With approximately 100 people in the ROPD and another 100 people in the City Hall departments, the building would need to be approximately 65,000 to 75,000 square feet.
Given the limitations of horizontal space on city-owned sites without taking up too much parking, a combined building would have to be vertical and a minimum 4 to 5 stories tall. Due to the requirements of separating public and police activities, for security reasons, this type of building would require additional square footage and have multiple stairwells and elevators above and beyond what would be required by code, adding significant cost of the project. This is why two separate buildings types are being proposed for the city of Royal Oak. All the operation efficiencies the city is hoping to achieve will be lost if it starts adding levels.
A combined location works much better in a rural environment where land is available and you can go horizontal instead of vertical.
The idea of a new civic center campus isn’t new. Over the years, the city has explored sites inside and outside of the central business district (CBD), including but not limited to the former school administration building and the senior center site. In the end, the preferred option by multiple city commissions and stakeholders has been to create a civic center area in the downtown.
There are many reasons why a downtown civic center is attractive in a traditional city:
There is no such thing as free parking. It will cost the city about $25,000 per space to build a parking structure, and that is without adjusting for the spaces that were already there. In Royal Oak, parking has always been paid for with parking system revenue. The city does not use city tax revenue for parking. One way or another, the city will need to increase parking revenue. That can be done by increasing fees, or it can be done with a special parking assessment on properties in the Central Business District, which are not required to provide their own parking, or with a combination of the two. The city has always used parking fees in the past to finance parking in Royal Oak. Birmingham uses both fees and special assessments.
The DDA serves as the city’s parking committee, and it has created a subcommittee to look at how the city should be paying for parking. That could lead to the use of special assessments in the future.
Current rates are extremely low. Anyone who spends anytime in downtown Detroit is well aware of this. The rate in the garage at Woodward and State Street is $5/hour. The city of Royal Oak charges .75/hour and the first two hours are free.
Our current cost estimates are as follows:
Police building: $14-$16 million
Furniture, fixtures, equipment and technology (FFE&T): $2.4 million
City Hall: $9-$10.5 million / FFE&T: $1.575 million
Parking Structure: $14-14.5 million
Park and site improvements: $9.75-10.75
The city will spend another $900,000 on construction management and about $581,000 on bond issuance costs.
All of these numbers are estimates. No portion of the project has been bid yet. That said, the numbers for the police building are based on detailed plans, whereas the numbers for City Hall are based on standard construction costs per square foot. The city does not have plans for City Hall yet. The parking structure is very similar to the one the city currently has under construction, and the city has recent bids on it that verify the standard cost estimate.
The parking system will bear the full cost of the parking structure and receive all of the revenue it earns. The city will probably use revenue bonds as with the new structure at Center St and 11 Mile. Revenue bonds only pledge the revenue of the parking system, not tax revenue, as security to the bond holders.
The annual debt service on the other three components is estimated at $2.4 million per year for 25 years. The city manager is recommending the DDA pick up the debt service on the park, which is estimated at $737,000. That leaves about $1.6 million to the general fund for City Hall and the police building. That sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but the city’s OPEB and pension bond issue is saving the city $2.5 million per year, the new buildings will have lower utility and maintenance costs, and will reduce staffing needs.
The type of bond the city will issue is called a “limited tax general obligation bond.” That means bondholders have a claim on existing (already authorized) taxes and other revenue, but the city cannot issue any additional taxes to pay the debt service. In other words, there will be no tax increase as a result of this project.
The construction will be bid, as with every city project. The city has taken full control over the construction of the police building, city hall building, parking structure and park. It no longer has a developer involved in the city portions of the project. The developer is only building its office building, not the city facilities. With the city in control, Royal Oak will follow its normal processes for bidding construction work.
When it became clear that this project was a serious possibility, the city retained Plante Moran Cresa, whose wealth of knowledge in this arena supercedes any of city staff’s. PMC has worked on dozens of municipal projects in SE Michigan, and it is currently coordinating the District Detroit arena development in downtown Detroit. PMC has been the city’s eyes and ears in not only vetting the current proposal, but also bringing alternative ideas, footprints, floor plans, etc. As this project has evolved over the course of the last three years, every decision that has been made has been made publicly, and usually followed by significant media coverage. Certainly, the city was aware of the feedback of many in the community when it was evaluating whether to locate future operations into an office building.
A landscape architect has just been hired to solicit feedback from our community – focus groups, town halls, etc. – so that the park represents what the entire community wants. This public engagement process should begin sometime this fall.
The park will be built using bond money. The city is asking the DDA to agree to pay the debt service costs on the park.
The city does not have a design for the park yet. It has just selected a landscape architect who will design this park and Normandy Oaks. It is impossible to speculate what amenities will be placed in the park. Unless we install something requiring very high maintenance -- a swimming pool or ice skating rink with ice making equipment -- basic costs will be mowing and landscape maintenance.
This development is projected to result in a net increase in available parking spaces because the project includes a parking structure with 450 new spaces. (See table below.)
The office building tenants will use a great deal of those spaces between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. However, they will use very few in the evenings and weekends, which is when the city has a parking shortfall in the area. The city will gain parking during the hours that it needs more parking evenings and on the weekends.
All of the city’s parking lots and garages provide handicapped parking spaces in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ADA does not require existing facilities to be modified to meet the current act requirements until changes are made. That is why the city can have a current City Hall and police building that do not meet ADA standards. The new buildings will at least meet current standards.
- $30 - If the claim you are filing is for $600 or less. - $50 - If the claim is for between $600 and $1,750. - $70 - If the claim is for between $1,750 and $6,000. NOTE: The maximum will increase to $6,500 January 1, 2021 - $10 - If you want us to mail the papers by Certified Mail. - $20.00+ - If you want our Court Officer to personally serve the papers. This fee varies depending on where the defendant lives. Note: If the Judge/Magistrate rules in your favor, then costs (including those listed above) will be added to your claim at the time of the Judgment and the Defendant will be responsible for reimbursing you for those costs.
More than 1,500 local governments across 40 states have enacted this type of utility, including the cities of Detroit, Ann Arbor and Birmingham.
Stormwater begins as rain or snowmelt that flows over land rather than seeping into the ground. It flows over hard surfaces (impervious surfaces) such as roofs, driveways, and walkways, as well as pervious surfaces such as grass, gardens, and woodlands into the city’s combined sewer system. The more hard surface (impervious surface) on your property, the more stormwater runoff is contributed to the sewer system.
This drainage flows into the same underground pipes as sewage and must be treated at the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) wastewater treatment plant before it can be released back into the environment.
The City of Royal Oak is billed by the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner for the conveyance and treatment of combined sewage at GLWA.
Lawns and vegetation have a limited ability to absorb water based on site specific conditions. Once saturated or frozen, water can no longer be absorbed into landscaped areas. Often, only a limited amount of impervious surface areas can be directed to an impervious area before its ability to absorb the additional water is diminished.
Buildings, garages, sheds, houses, etc. are hard surfaces that directly shed stormwater off their roofs. These surfaces eliminate large impervious areas where water can infiltrate.
Pavements like concrete and asphalt are designed to drain stormwater to a low point to prevent ponding on the surface. Water does not infiltrate standard pavements.
Standard brick pavers are typically installed over compacted base material, and the joints in between the pavers are also filled in with compacted material. These act similar to pavements, and typically do not allow any stormwater to infiltrate.
Gravel materials used for parking, roads, driveways and walkways is tightly compacted, and does not allow for infiltration. Water will always find the path of least resistance, and will tend to run downhill over compacted gravel rather than infiltrate into the underlying soils.
While stormwater may be contained within pools during a rain storm, the pool itself does not allow water from other parts of the property to soak into the soil. When the pool is drained, the stormwater that was collected will be sent to the sewer system. Considering pools as impervious surfaces is consistent with many other stormwater utilities throughout the country.
For billing purposes, stormwater charges will be based on the amount of hard surface on your property. Hard surfaces within the city’s right of way (roads, boulevards and sidewalks) are not included in your property’s hard surface area.
The hard surfaces of a property will be measured using high-resolution aerial photography. This will provide the basis for the quarterly bill. Due to the possibility of error using aerial photography, each property’s hard surface area was reduced by 100 square feet before calculating the stormwater utility charge.
Newly-developed properties will have their hard surface area determined using the approved site plan. Property owners will have the opportunity to appeal the measurement. In these cases, the property owner can provide their own measurement and submit it to the city for review.
The diagram above shows impervious areas of the property above in gray and pervious areas in blue.
The hard areas (shown in gray in the example above on the right) of a property will be calculated to the square foot and are billable.
The area in yellow (the sidewalk and street right-of way) are non-billable.
A stormwater utility covers the critical service of carrying stormwater runoff away from properties, conveying it within the city’s combined sewer system to treatment facilities and ultimately discharging it to the Detroit River. Properly operated stormwater infrastructure prevents flooding and backups, expensive repairs, and pollution of natural waterways. While the city currently operates a combined sewer system, the method of funding this operation and the associated costs for treatment has been determined to be outdated by current standards. The city’s proposed stormwater utility will proportionally bill users for their use of the system and will encourage activities that promote better stormwater management and lessen the burdens of the system, making the existing infrastructure more adaptable to severe rain events.
The city used low-altitude, high-resolution aerial photography to determine the hard surface area on each property. The city will perform aerial flyovers every three years to update the hard surface database.
Using aerial photography is the best possible way to measure each property’s individual hard surface area. However, mapping of aerial photographs does have a degree of inherent error. The hard surface area on each property was therefore reduced by 100 square feet to account for error in the measurements.
The image below is an example of aerial photography. The area outlined in blue represents the hard surface area. The pop-up block indicates the Billable Hard Surface Area of this property is 91,215 sq. ft.
To view your property go to: https://royaloak.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=88ea895ad7f34bdb885f3994d431f972
Royal Oak has a "combined" sewer system, which means that all the stormwater from rain and snow is mixed with all the sanitary sewage from private sewer leads into one pipe. Parts of the city do have separate stormwater pipes and sanitary sewer pipes, but these all ultimately drain to the same county drain and are combined. This means that the city has to pay to treat all the sewage AND stormwater that enters the system.
Roads and public rights-of-way maintained by the city are exempt from the stormwater utility fee because they function as part of the stormwater collection and conveyance system. City-owned properties such as parks and parking lots are subject to the stormwater utility fee.
While stormwater is a result of rain and snowmelt, the stormwater fee is not related to how much rain falls on your property, but rather the facilities used to manage stormwater such as sewers, manholes, catch basins and wastewater treatment. The more hard surface a property has, the more it uses the stormwater system components.
The settlement was based upon language in the Drain Code that requires the city to bill for its portion of the debt on the Kuhn RTF on an ad valorem basis. However, billing for stormwater costs based upon the amount of stormwater that a property contributes to the stormwater system is more rational and more equitable than billing for stormwater costs based upon the amount of water consumed at that property.
Summer property taxes are due in the Treasurer’s Office by 4:30 p.m. on July 31. Winter property taxes are due in the Treasurer’s Office by 4:30 p.m. on February 14. Please verify the due date on your current tax statement, as the City of Royal Oak does not accept postmarks.
There is also a 24-hour drop box located near the front entrance of the Royal Oak Police Station, located at .221 E Third Street. However, drop box payments received after 4:30 p.m. on the last business day of July will be considered received on the first business day of August. All unpaid taxes belong to Oakland County as of March 1.
Property tax information is now available online for free. First time users will need to register by choosing “Register” option from the drop down list under “Currently not signed in” tab in the upper right hand corner of the web page. You will be able to search tax, utility billing, special assessment, miscellaneous receivable and building permit information on this website.
Visit the bsaonline.com website.
The Treasurer’s Office can provide you with a copy of your paid tax bill. There is a $1 fee per page. If you’d like to avoid this fee, simply visit the website, linked below. First time users will need to register by choosing “Register” option from the drop down list under “Currently not signed in” tab in the upper right hand corner of the web page. You will be able to search tax, utility billing, special assessment, miscellaneous receivable and building permit information on this website.
Visit the bsaonline.com website.
or e-mail a scan of both the form and a voided check to Water Billing. Water Payment Enrollment Form (PDF).
or e-mail us at Water Billing. Address Change Request Form (PDF).
A cross-connection is a connection of a potable water system to a non-potable system or a system of questionable water quality.
Backflow, within the context of the drinking water industry, means the reversal of water flow from its normal or intended direction of flow. Whenever a water utility connects a customer to its water distribution system, the intention is for the water to flow from the distribution system to the customer. However, it is possible, and quite common, for the flow to be reversed and the flow from the customer’s plumbing system can back up into the public water distribution system. If cross-connections exist within the user’s plumbing system when backflow occurs, then it is possible to contaminate the public water system.
Backflow may occur simply because the public water system lost pressure. Backflow, reversal of flow from its normal direction, is usually caused by a back pressure or backsiphonage. It is a condition that manifests itself when the water pressure within an establishment’s plumbing system exceeds that of the water distribution system supplying it. This back pressure might be caused by a difference in elevation, a pump, a steam boiler or other means.
Back pressure or Backsiphonage may occur when the water pressure within the distribution system falls below that of the plumbing system it is supplying. This may happen due to a fire department pumper truck as it needs to pump water out of the distribution system faster than the water treatment plant equipment can replace it. Also, the water rushing downhill due to a broken water main might create a partial vacuum on some plumbing systems connected in the vicinity of the break and cause a backsiphonage or, perhaps, simply flushing the water pipes to clean them may cause this phenomenon.
Yes, in the old days many disease epidemics were caused by cross-connections between potable water systems and raw river water or lake water piping systems. Epidemics of typhoid and cholera were often caused by backflow occurrences from these sources. People died or became very ill as a result of these outbreaks. A few of the contaminants caused by cross-connections are:
Untreated river, sea or lake water, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, propane gas, worm treatment for poultry, boiler water with chemicals, anti-freeze, blood and body fluids from funeral homes, chemicals, water from car washes, dyes, sewage, Freon, worms, heavy metals such as arsenic, petrochemicals, water from flush toilets, bacteria cultures from laboratories and others.
This is only a partial list of documented cases of potable water contamination by virtue of cross-connections and backflow occurrences. They still happen, somewhere, every day.
Modern technology has provided us with new tools to prevent backflow from non-potable sources into our public water systems. They are called backflow prevention assemblies; reduced pressure (RP) or double check valve (DC)-type. Unlike the older accepted, non-testable hardware for preventing backflow such as swing check valves, dual check valves and atmospheric vacuum breakers (which still have their applications), the RP and DC-type backflow prevention assemblies are testable to assure they are in proper working order. Placed at the site of the cross-connection they can protect the plumbing system from contamination. Placed just downstream of a water meter to an establishment, they can protect the public water system from any contamination that may occur within the entire establishment’s plumbing system.
Where backflow occurs and cross-connections are present you have all of the necessary elements for contamination of the plumbing system and subsequently contamination of the public water system:
Backflow Occurrence = Link + Force
The City of Royal Oak is required under Public Act 399, Part 14, to maintain a cross connection control program to identify and eliminate any possible connections that could contaminate the public water system.
To fully comply with this state mandate, the city has contracted with HydroCorp of Troy, MI to assist with facilitating a Cross Connection Control Program.
Information on this program can be found at www.romi.gov/cccp.