Fouts: ‘We’re changing the face of the city’

Mayor’s State of City speech hits on looming investment, medical pot growers and blight

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published April 10, 2015


WARREN — Mayor Jim Fouts said Warren weathered the “year of the storm” in 2014. Heading into the months to come, his eyes are now set on a potentially huge corporate investment and new initiatives dealing with medical marijuana growers and blight.

Before he addressed a crowd of community leaders, city officials, residents and guests gathered at Warren’s Andiamo Italia on April 9, the mayor remained tight-lipped about the specifics of the looming investment, but he said it was expected to create a minimum of 2,500 jobs over the next five years.

“It will be approximately a $1 billion investment,” Fouts said. “It will be the largest non-manufacturing expansion in Michigan.”

The mayor’s speech came on top of reports, confirmed by a source at General Motors, that the company is exploring the business case for an expansion at the Tech Center campus but that the plans have not been finalized. The deal would likely include seeking local tax breaks from the city, which would have to go before the City Council. 

Fouts said Warren had other business investments totaling more than $82 million in 2014. He said that was 43 percent of the total for Macomb County.

For the coming year, he announced a list of other new commercial developments, including a Kroger store at 13 Mile and Mound and a new Meijer at 10 Mile and Schoenherr, the site of the former Bi-County Hospital. He also alluded to potential plans in the works for Warren’s Civic Center, where acres of city-owned land have sat vacant for a decade.

While again strong on praise for his administration and its work over the last year, Fouts also laid out an agenda focused on medical marijuana growers and blight in the city’s 12 mobile-home communities.

“The medical marijuana law in some cases is being misused and abused,” Fouts said. “Instead of this being pot for patients, it’s becoming pot for profits.”

The mayor said he’s received calls from residents incensed over a “skunk” smell wafting through Warren neighborhoods, emanating from homes where caregivers grow medical marijuana.

He said he would push to require ventilation systems to prevent “offensive smells.” He also wants to limit
the hours of operation for marijuana dispensaries, and said he hopes to put inspections and residency requirements in place for home-based growers.

Touching on blight, Fouts said 125,000 residential and commercial properties have been inspected over the last seven years through his administration’s “blight sweep” program. He pledged to focus on the city’s 1,640 mobile homes through property maintenance inspections in 2015.

Beyond the new initiatives, Fouts called back to mind a list of ongoing concerns from the last 12 months, ranging from the loosening of the state’s fireworks laws to last year’s Proposal 1 ballot initiative, both of which he vehemently opposed.

He praised the city’s response to the flooding disaster last August and the epic snowfall seen in 2014 and 2015 — particularly the work of the Sanitation Department, the Department of Public Works and the city’s Police and Fire departments — and he thanked members of the City Council for their support in times of crisis.  

Though he has not yet officially filed to seek a third and final four-year term at the city’s helm, Fouts said he plans to host an event recognizing what would have been Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday later this year. The mayor, a huge Sinatra fan, has long worked the legend’s music into his major speeches — that is, when he hasn’t invoked the words of former President Harry Truman, another of his favorites.

“Warren is a good investment, a good buy and a good place to raise your family,” Fouts said. “This is the most exciting time to be mayor because we have some big investments that will make a difference in the city of Warren.

“I’d say the state of the city is, number one, financially sound, and we are increasing our services to citizens. I think the police continue to do a good job of servicing our citizens and making sure crime is down to a minimum. Our Fire Department is outstanding. We’re in no danger of having an emergency manager or having a financial deficit. This administration has outstanding people who understand their job is to service citizens, not service themselves. We’re doing a lot of things that are changing the face of the city.”

The mayor’s 2015 State of the City speech will be aired on TV Warren. For a schedule of broadcast times and channels, visit