Longest serving planning commissioner commended

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published August 19, 2015

 Mayor Dane Slater, left, presents former Planning Commissioner Tom Strat a commendation for his years of service Aug. 10. Strat received a standing ovation in council chambers while accepting the award.

Mayor Dane Slater, left, presents former Planning Commissioner Tom Strat a commendation for his years of service Aug. 10. Strat received a standing ovation in council chambers while accepting the award.

Photo provided by the city of Troy

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Troy architect Thomas Strat had to switch his focus from schools and municipal work when he sold his firm 16 years ago because of a noncompete clause.

But he still helped to guide many such projects as the longest-serving member of the Troy Planning Commission.

He served on the all-volunteer commission for 12 years.

Strat is moving out of Troy and resigned from his position on the Planning Commission last month. His architectural firm will remain based in Troy.

When the Troy City Council presented Strat with a service commendation at the Aug. 10 meeting, Strat received a standing ovation from the council, city staff, residents and others in the council chambers.

“Thank you so much for your years of service,” said Troy Mayor Dane Slater.

“I was in total shock. I didn’t expect that at all,” Strat said of his standing ovation. “I was very pleased and very humbled.”

Strat explained that he sold the firm he initially founded because he had open heart surgery and switched his daytime work focus. He said he volunteered to serve on the Planning Commission because he “wanted to contribute to the welfare of the city, and I couldn’t do schools and municipal work. Architecture has been very good to me. I love people. I love what I do. I wanted to give back to the community.”

“Tom brought a wealth of experience to the position,” said Troy City Planning Director Brent Savidant, who worked with Strat as a planning commissioner and as local architect since Savidant has been employed in the city Planning Department.

Strat said that that although it is hard to pinpoint what he is most proud of during his tenure, one accomplishment is the Big Beaver Corridor Study, completed in 2006, which continues to guide and shape the city’s master plan and what Big Beaver will be going forward.

He said that he and his wife, Judy, want to live in a “year-round cottage” on Silver Lake in Waterford  so they and their family — including nine grandchildren — can enjoy it.

Strat appeared before the Planning Commission Aug. 11 to present preliminary site plans for the Sedona Taphouse Restaurant being built on the south side of Big Beaver, east of Livernois. He brought samples of the stonework and wood paneling that will be used in the construction.

“I’m just curious if you sealed the drawings submitted on the plans,” Planning Commission Vice Chair Philip Sanzica said to Strat, who laughed and replied that he had done so.

“That’s a question Mr. Strat has asked every architect in the last 13 years, so I had to address that question to him,” Sanzica said, also laughing.

Strat has lived in Troy for 30 years.

“It’s difficult to move out of Troy,” Strat said.

He noted that he’s appeared before many other communities’ planning commissions and zoning boards, and said Troy has the most professional staff.

“You haven’t gotten rid of me, because I’m still staying in Troy,” Strat said. “My offices are still going to be here,” he said after the mayor presented him with the service commendation.

Strat thanked the mayor, the “excellent” staff and the council for the “honor of being able to serve on the Planning Commission.”

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