The Plymouth City Commission lifted their moratorium on the sale of liquor licenses Feb. 4, allowing new businesses to apply for licenses in the downtown Plymouth area.
The situation surrounding the moratorium began several years ago, when Plymouth changed their parking regulations to allow for more commercial use of the downtown. Around the same time, the state of Michigan changed their state liquor laws, allowing for licenses to be transferred from anywhere within a county. A combination of both changes in regulations led to Plymouth’s concerns of where their city could be headed.
“The city commission was concerned that perhaps we might be getting too much of a good thing here,” said Paul Sincock, Plymouth’s city manager. “They wanted to stop and take a look at where we stand, do some research, and then move forward from there.”
The city commission instituted the liquor license moratorium last Oct. 24. At the Jan. 21 meeting, the city commission delayed their decision for more time to collect research.
“We did quite a bit of research,” Sincock said. “Anything from comparing other communities of like size – we compared the number of establishments in those communities versus population versus number of police officers on duty.”
While working towards a conclusion, the city commission gathered input from Plymouth’s residents. They formed a public hearing ‘focus group’, welcoming residents to come to the meeting and voice their opinions.
“Those who came to the public hearing focus group session, from the young folks to the senior citizens who have lived here 40 years, simply said let the free market reign,” Sincock said.
Kristine Misko, a Plymouth homeowner and parent, said that the growth of the city is an important consideration, and that allowing more licenses would help aid in bringing more people to the downtown area.
“I think it’s nice that we have a lot of restaurants,” Misko said. “It’s nice to have visitors come to our town. The restaurants that sell liquor I think tend to bring more people, you know? I wouldn’t want it to be row after row of restaurants serving liquor, but a few more would be fine.”
Other residents think that there are enough liquor-serving establishments in Plymouth, though they acknowledge that more restaurants means more growth.
“Right now I think there are plenty of liquor licenses in the downtown area,” said Lynn Hall, a Plymouth Township resident. “I don’t think they should give out anymore. However, it would probably help [the downtown area] because I know that there are quite a few new businesses trying to move in there.”
However, Sincock said that the biggest concern for both the government and residents is preserving Plymouth’s ‘family-friendly’ atmosphere. According to Sincock, one of the major reasons the city commission enacted the moratorium was to make sure that with whichever decision was made, Plymouth would save its image, for today and the future.
Misko said that what happens during the late hours shouldn’t be a concern for families in the area. “Families are out until dusk, usually, and then after that, the kiddies are in bed, and mom and dad are at home,” Misko said. “The people that are out afterwards at these establishments aren’t bothering families, so I don’t see that it would be a problem.”
According to an article in the Detroit News, alcohol-related driving offenses increased from 129 in 2005 to 144 in 2006, and increased more over the last year. Sincock said that the city commission hosted police presentations on what it takes to arrest a drunk driver.
Misko said that those numbers are a concern, but also that it is an unavoidable worry.
“I’m not out late at night, so that doesn’t really bother me. I know that I worry about my daughter if she’s driving late at night or driving home, but that’s something you always think about in the back of your mind, you worry about your kids. Drunk drivers are out late at night, so you worry then, but accidents like that could happen anywhere.”
Twelve establishments currently serve alcohol in the downtown area. Sincock said that since the moratorium was lifted, the city of Plymouth has not had any new applications for liquor licenses, but they did send out an information packet to a potential developer.