OSCODA – At their regular Oct. 11 board meeting, the Oscoda Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved creation of a Social District and approved Resolution 2021-30, establishing a “Downtown Oscoda Social District and Commons Area”. Township Supervisor Ann Richards was absent from the meeting.
Bars and restaurants identified as qualifying for participation in the social district are the Edelweiss Tavern located at 107 S. State St., the Office Lounge & Grill located at 110 E. Dwight St. and Tait’s Bill of Fare located at 111 E. Dwight St.
Businesses interested in participating in the Social District must apply for a Social District Permit through the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) and must submit a $70 inspection fee and $250 annual permit fee. The township will need to approve an establishment’s application to the state to be included in the Social District.
Oscoda’s Social District extends along US 23 from the north side of Furtaw Field to seven blocks south. The district also extends one block east of US 23 and then zig zags to the Lake Huron shoreline. The full map of the district is included as page 131 in the township board packet on the Oscoda Township documents webpage.
Trustee Jeremy Spencer had questions about the stipulation that people are not allowed on highways, given that the district runs along US23. “I guess it would be the board’s discretion to move it,” said Township Superintendent Tammy Kline. “You have to clearly identify the area,” added Trustee Steve Wusterbarth. “Within the district there is a commons area,” added township attorney Tim Freel. “I do know they are very popular,” added Trustee Bill Palmer, referring to the Social District.
The Operations and Maintenance Plan, presented by EIC Director Todd Dickerson, includes an estimated launch budget of $13,506. The launch budget includes purchasing mandatory signage, picnic tables, chairs, beverage cups, trash and recycling bins, and renting portable restrooms for the summer months. Marketing materials including a website landing page, QR Code, maps, and print materials are also included in the launch budget. Future costs include additional umbrellas, picnic tables, benches, portable restrooms and landscaping.
The district “will operate Monday-Sunday, 11 am -12 am. After 12 am, no beverages can be sold to be consumed in the district and must be sold to be consumed in the license holder’s service areas.”
The township will purchase the first order of cups, after that, individual businesses will be responsible for purchasing their own cups. The plan stipulates that cups “have less than 16 oz capacity, cannot be made of glass and must display the logo or trade name of the permit holder and the Downtown Oscoda Social District.”
According to the plan the purpose of the district is four-fold and includes 1) Expand outdoor eating and drinking locations throughout the downtown, 2) Encourage additional pedestrian traffic downtown, 3) Create an additional draw for visitors and locals to visit and spend time in the downtown, and 4) Encourage visitors to explore and extend their time in the downtown.
At their Aug. 9 meeting, the trustees had directed Economic Improvement Director Todd Dickerson to research and bring back information to the board about establishing a social district policy. Dickerson included information in the Oct. 11 board packet from the City of Tecumseh that established a social district in 2020. According to the Daily Telegram, Tecumseh’s social district is event-based for the most part, “meaning the city opens up the social district when businesses communicate to them that they have something going on for which they would like the social district to be open.”
The state law allowing the establishment of Social Districts, designed to provide some relief to restaurants and bars during the COVID-19 pandemic, was signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on July 1, 2020 and expires Dec. 31, 2024.
The board also took action on the following items:
• Unanimously approved a request for proposals (RFP) for assessing services. Proposals are due to the township by Friday, Nov. 5 by 12:00 p.m. Motion by Spencer, support by Township Clerk Josh Sutton.
• Unanimously approved an RFP for auditing services with changes. Wusterbarth and Cummings had a number of additions to the original RFP.
• Unanimously approved extending the contract with ROWE Professional Services with no end date. The current two-year contract for engineering services expires on Nov. 30. Fees are increasing for as-needed services only.
• Unanimously approved payment to Mika Meyers in the amount of $7,245.08 for attorney fees related to the sewer project.
• Unanimously approved Resolution 2021-29 to allow business owners or key employees to serve on the Economic Development Committee. “So, it could be anybody,” said Spencer. “Could it be four people who don’t live in Oscoda?” asked Township Treasurer Jaimie McGuire. “I always understood it to be a mix,” said Kline. The board changed the language to say “key employee that lives in the township.” Motion by Spencer, support by McGuire.
• Unanimously approved changes to the Section 4.15 WB-3 Wurtsmith Business District. The district encompasses most of the businesses on the old base.
• Accepted the resignation of Catherine Larive from the township Zoning Board of Appeals, effective Oct. 31, with regrets. Larive’s term was set to expire on Dec. 21, 2022. According to Planning and Zoning Director Nicholle Villette, no one has expressed interest in serving on the board.
• Scheduled the next budget work session for Monday, Oct. 25 at 6:00 p.m.
•Approved a request from Chamber Director Nancy Howse to close Dwight St. on Saturday, Oct. 23 starting at 10:00 a.m. for the Fall Harvest Block Party from 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. The event, hosted by the Chamber and sponsored by Cathy’s Hallmark and Huron Community Bank, will include pony rides and a petting zoo.
•Unanimously approved whatever costs are incurred for Kline and Sutton to attend a two-day recycling conference Oct. 28-29 in Bay City. “Anything that would get us moving in the direction of having a recycling program would be a great opportunity,” said Palmer. Sutton added that he has been talking to the school about working together on a plan. “The school would like to set it up there, as a school program. The kids would run the program as a business. We’re looking at clean recycling. We would essentially get paid. A lot of kids in different grades are behind it,” he added.
• Approved sending language changes to the policy committee regarding pre-board meeting work sessions and review of the board protocol document.
• Voted to postpone discussion about changing the venue for in-person meetings.
• The Board of Trustees postponed a vote on a proposal from Allpaid to provide online payment of township fees. Online payment is an RRC certification requirement. Fees of $2.95 per check or 2.95% for debit and credit card payments are passed on to Allpaid users. Iosco County uses Allpaid. McGuire had a number of questions about how the system would work and how it would integrate with the payment systems the township currently has. “I’d like to see how the back end works,” said McGuire. She asked if anyone from Allpaid was on the call. “No, they weren’t available,” responded Kline. “The fees with the BS&A system are expensive,” added Wusterbarth. The contract with Allpaid would be for one year. McGuire said she didn’t know the proposal was going to be on the agenda. Cummings asked if the board couldn’t wait. “I’m irritated that we can’t get one payment portal for everything, Is there anything we can do to facilitate this process?” added Spencer.
• At the request of Clerk Josh Sutton, the board began discussion about building a new township municipal building. “The Chief of Police has a closet for an office,” said Spencer. “Our town is growing and I’d like to see our building grow with it. If we wait too long it is going to be too late,” he added. “I would agree with that. This municipal building, we need to start talking about it and have some work sessions,” added Palmer. The board directed Kline to coordinate dates.