Council vote allows art center to seek liquor license

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – The Downriver Council for the Arts soon may be able to toast its success in its own building without special permission.

The City Council recently voted to allow the DCA to apply for a Class C liquor license, subject to the execution of an agreement to legally protect the city and the Wyandotte Art Center, where the arts council is housed, from damages or death resulting from liquor sales.

A Class C license allows a business to sell beer, wine, liquor and mixed spirit drinks for consumption on the premises.

The DCA previously currently must apply for a separate 24-hour special event permit whenever it plans to serve liquor at a scheduled event at the art center, which is housed in the recently renovated former Masonic Temple.

The March 22 resolution also will require the city and art center to be included as insured parties on liquor liability coverage.

Voting in favor were council members Todd Browning, James DeSana, Sheri Sutherby-Fricke, Leonard Sabuda and Lawrence Stec. Councilman Daniel Galeski voted against.

Permit requests to allow Sunday sales, dancing by patrons, and predefined entertainment will be added to the Class C liquor license application. Some council members asked about license wording that theoretically allows topless dancing.

However, state law says on-premise licensees are eligible to apply for “topless activity permits,” but that the applying party still would need local law enforcement and local legislative body approval.

Galeski said he would like to see the “plan of operation” before he approved any liquor license.

“Who knows, they might become a social club with all this liquor here,” he said.

Todd Drysdale, director of financial and administrative services, said the Class C license only allows the center to serve liquor on specially designated event nights. “It’s not a 24-7,” Mayor Joseph Peterson said. “It’s a different class of license.”

Drysdale said it was the council’s option to hold up granting the center permission to seek the license or to grant it at all.

“We’re trying to assist them in making the facility as marketable as possible,” he said.

Galeski asked Drysdale if he was aware that there are four churches in the immediate vicinity of the center that fall within the Michigan Liquor Control Commission’s 500-foot radius guideline.

It states that schools or churches within that distance of proposed licensees must be notified of their right to object via a hearing. If a church or school does not object to the proposed location, the commission then will proceed with the application process. The 500-foot rule does not apply to beer and wine off-premises licensed businesses unless sales take placein conjunction with an on-premises license.

“All I’ve recommended to this body is to authorize the DCA to apply,” Drysdale said. “If the (Michigan) Liquor Control Commission has prohibitions about that building having a concessionaire serving liquor they will devise a request,” Drysdale said. “If you don’t want to give them that permission, vote no.”