Resolution to prohibit Sunday morning alcohol sales rescinds

Published 8:43 am Wednesday, January 30, 2019

DOWAGIAC — Sunday mornings in Dowagiac may get boozier, thanks to a vote by the Dowagiac City Council Monday evening.

During Monday’s city council meeting, the Dowagiac City Council voted to rescind a resolution from December 2010 that prohibited the sale of alcohol on Sunday mornings. Through the decision, the city is officially allowing the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to issue permits for the sale of alcohol before noon in the city of Dowagiac.

“It made sense to tell the State Liquor Control Commission that they could issue permits during that stretch of time as  necessary to those who apply,” said City Manager Kevin Anderson. “It does open the door for restaurants to continue to have some of their special events.”

Kevin Anderson

In November 2010, the state legislature acted and the governor signed into law a bill that allowed Michigan Liquor Control Commission to permit the sale of spirits, mixed spirit drinks, beer and wine on Sunday mornings unless the local legislative body prohibits such sales. In December 2010, the Dowagiac City Council adopted a resolution that banned such sales.

According to Anderson, that decision was made as the council received a letter from the state about the matter of Sunday liquor sales just days before action needed to be taken on the item, which allowed for little research time.

“[At the time], the council said, ‘we aren’t going to change anything. We are going to prohibit those sales, and if we need to change anything, we change things later,’” Anderson said.

Since then, the state liquor commission has approved permits to allow Sunday morning alcohol sales, despite the city’s resolution, Anderson said. However, a local restaurateur was recently denied a permit for alcohol sales during traditional brunches that they host several times a year because of the city’s resolution prohibiting such activity. The restaurateur then requested the city revisit the 2010 ordinance.

Since many other communities have allowed Sunday morning sales for nearly a decade, there is no evidence to suggest that Sunday morning sales are creating public safety issues in other parts of the state, according to a memo sent by Anderson to the Dowagiac City Council.

Anderson also said he had reviewed the potential impact of earlier sales on Sunday with police administration, and they do not anticipate the expansion of sales hours creating enforcement issues for the community.

“What we have seen is that there hasn’t been a problem with this,” Anderson said. “So now, after several years, the council has looked at this and said, ‘we see that this isn’t causing an issue, so we will go ahead and allow for [Sunday morning alcohol sales].’”

Also Monday:

• During the city council meeting, the council approved an ordinance to amend sewer rates within the city. With the vote, a household using 4,000 gallons of water — or a typical four-person household — can expect its bill to increase by $5.58 in March 2019 and $5.39 in March of 2020.

The rate increase will be used to fund capital improvements identified by a study funded by a Department of Environmental Quality Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) Grant, which was completed by the city late last year.

“That is to be used to fund major capital improvements that are needed,” Anderson said. “We are looking forward to getting started on that project.”

• The council voted to approve a resolution to authorize the 2020 Dial-A-Ride Transportation budget of $215,970.

• The council authorized the replacement of a police vehicle for the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team in the amount of $22,490.