Omer laying groundwork for recreational trails, biking improvements

Prepares for charter revisions


OMER — The city of Omer recently received a grant from the Central Michigan District Health Department to help form a five-year recreational plan, which can be used to get grant money to create trails and improve non-motorized vehicle routes.

Doug Schultz, landscape architect with Rowe Professional Services, told the council May 14 that the plan must lay out what improvements the city would like to make to its recreational options. To get grants from state departments such as the Department of Natural Resources, the city is required to have such a plan in place already.

“It casts a vision on what improvements you want to make for the residents and providing recreational options for yourselves,” Schultz said.

He said Rowe Professional Services would help create the plan using data and consultation from the city. For the non-motorized plan, he said common options are sidewalk improvements and adding bike lanes to help people get “from point A to point B” without needing to use a car.

Councilman Larry Daly said the recreational side of the grant would be helpful for Councilman Jim Steward’s idea to build trails on 52 acres of city property near the baseball fields, south of US-23 and near the Rifle River.

Steward was absent from the May 14 meeting, but said at the April 23 meeting the DNR had given their blessing to allow trails to be constructed on the property, which the DNR had previously said could only be used for the city sewer system. Steward added that the DNR has agreed to assist in creating signs identifying different trees and other flora along the proposed trails.

Schultz said improving recreational activities along the river and elsewhere in the city is an important part of a plan, and getting solid maps of the city would be extremely helpful.

The public will also need to be involved in the planning process for the plan to be eligible for grants, Schultz said. The city council will first need to hold a public hearing to gather ideas and input for the plan, and scheduled one for June 4 at 7 p.m.

Following the hearing, the plan will be drafted by Rowe Professional Services and sent to the city to display publicly for 30 days so it can get additional input and comments. The council will then set another public hearing to adopt the plan. Once adopted, the plan, along with the meeting minutes containing its adoption, is sent to the DNR to review, and if the department signs off on it, the city will then be eligible for state grants.

Schultz said the grant received from the health department will reimburse the city for the expenses of getting the plan together, with the reimbursements coming approximately 20 days after the invoices are submitted.

In other city council action, the council voted to send its fourth-class city charter revisions to the city attorney for review. Clerk Sue Oliver said the city charter is outdated and needs to be brought up to speed.

“There are a lot of things in there that basically didn’t pertain to us anymore, so we just wanted to update it and revise it,” she said, adding that some city ordinances were among the items that no longer applied.

The council also voted to adopt the Arenac County master plan, used to help set zoning plans for municipal governments, so it could update its own zoning ordinances. Councilwoman Jill Eyre said the city’s zoning ordinance dates back to the 1970s and is now outdated and inadequate.

The master plan needs to go before a public hearing, and afterward will appear on an election ballot. Oliver said the city is waiting to hear back from the city attorney to see what the next step is for the charter revisions.


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