Commission seats are wide open in Otsego

by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter

Contributing writer

The Otsego City Council decided to modify the appointment process for its advisory commissions, which has resulted in a larger-than-usual number of appointments needing to be filled.

The Parks and Recreation Commission is looking to fill four seats, the Planning Commission and Police Commission each have three open seats, and the Heritage Preservation Commission has two open seats.

“Some of the dates didn’t match up. We had terms expiring in random years. If we didn’t fix it, we would’ve had one commission where all but one member would need to be reappointed,” said Tami Loff, Otsego city clerk.

Some of the open seats are from current commission members who are seeking reappointment, but many are vacant and just waiting for a community member to step up and get involved.

Pam Black has been on the Planning Commission since 2002 and is now the chairperson. Though she has a background in real estate and property management, her current job has little to do with the matters she and the rest of the Planning Commission consider.

But through her previous work, she became very interested in how a city chooses to use its land.

“I thought it was very interesting how community leaders would decide where to allow apartments, because I was in property management, and how that affected a city’s plan,” she remembered.

Black and her husband moved to Otsego in 1975. They watched their tiny township become a city and continue to grow from there.

“It was fascinating to me to watch the process,” she said. “It was primarily rural and agricultural when we moved here. Our housing development was very small. We lived through the ’70s and ’80s when housing growth was just explosive. People were wanting to get out of the city. They didn’t want to raise their kids on a small city lot. They wanted space and room for their kids to play.”

Advisory commissions consider specific cases and the city’s overall plan and make recommendations to the City Council as to how to proceed. For appointment to a committee, a background in the subject is helpful. But Black believes there is more that is needed.

“Someone who has a stake in their community, who wants to see the best for it. Whether it’s public safety, parks and rec, the planning commission, they all factor into the quality of life of living here,” she said.

Applicants must be Otsego residents or business owners. Applications are available at and are due to the city clerk by Jan. 22. Applicants may be contacted for an interview with the City Council on Jan. 24 or Jan. 29. Final selections will be made in February.