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Posted on Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 9:05 a.m.

Brandy's Liquor Source owners headed to court over problems at Ypsilanti store

By Tom Perkins


Tom Perkins | For

A Washtenaw County Circuit judge will decide whether or not to hold the owners of Brandy’s Liquor Source in contempt of court for failing to comply with a 2008 order to address problems at their store.

Ypsilanti City Attorney John Barr is alleging the owners failed to comply with a number of stipulations, including regularly meeting with neighborhood groups, installing proper surveillance equipment and reducing the amount of crime on the property.

Barr said the order was set to expire last year as long as Brandy’s complied with all of its provisions. The order included language stating that it wouldn't expire if all provisions weren’t met, Barr said.

He contended most were never met, therefore the order has not expired and the owners, Sam and Kathy Hanna, should be held in contempt.

“They didn’t do what they were supposed to do, so (the order) did not expire,” Barr said.

The two sides will meet in front of Judge Timothy Connors for an evidentiary hearing on July 26.

Brandy’s attorney Brent Leder said questions over the intent of the order’s language will be determined by Connors and declined to comment further on it, though he added the store is continuing to work with council, the police department and city.

“Why it took another 10 months (after the order expired) to bring this to our attention is a question we’re going to be asking,” Leder said.

“We’ve been doing everything we can to move forward and work with the City of Ypsilanti … and we feel we’ve been making tremendous amounts of effort while the city attorney is strictly looking to shut down a family owned business serving the community.”

The 2008 order stemmed from the city seeking a court order to address escalating crime, drugs and violence issues at Brandy’s., located on West Michigan at Summit.

Barr said the city was aware those deadlines and requirements weren’t being met in 2010.

But as the city was preparing to re-initiate legal action, he said, the Michigan State Police and Ypsilanti Police were working on an undercover operation targeting the property. Because police officials feared the added attention of a lawsuit could jeopardize the undercover operation, legal action was delayed.

A raid following the operation resulted in several arrests and the store was closed for a week, which some residents said was the most peaceful week they’ve experienced living in the neighborhood west of downtown.

The Ypsilanti Police recently arrested Brandon Hanna, a son of the owners, on felony charges for receiving and concealing stolen property as a result of the raid. A preliminary exam in that case is scheduled for July 21.

On June 6, an unidentified suspect fired semi-automatic rounds near Brandy’s at Michigan Avenue and South Summit Street. Residents said the incident is only one of many over the last 10 years, and allege open drug dealing, fights, gunfire and prostitution regularly occurred on or near the store’s property.

Ypsilanti Police don’t have a lead on who fired the shots, but have stepped up patrols and enforcement around Brandy’s, issuing tickets for failing to use a crosswalk, loud vehicle music, traffic offenses, litter, trespassing and urinating in public.

City council passed a resolution a day after the shooting asking the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to revoke Brandy’s liquor license. Barr said his office did some research and found that the LCC doesn’t typically revoke licenses for offenses other than sales to minors.

He said the attorney’s office isn’t vigorously pursing a revocation through the LCC while it prepares for the upcoming court case.

In a July 6 memo to city council and city staff, Assistant City Manager April McGrath said staff is also addressing issues with several neighboring vacant houses on South Summit Street.

Staff has been cleaning up litter and brush around the homes, which are owned by jailed landlord David Kircher, McGrath wrote. Several vehicles neighbors say are used for prostitution on the property still remain because tow companies cannot tow vehicles without the titles.

Kircher must fill out paperwork and send someone to the Secretary of State to apply for the lost titles, McGrath wrote in the memo. City staff is continuing to wait on the paperwork, but preparing other legal measures in case they don’t receive cooperation from Kircher.

Midtown resident and developer Karen Maurer said the store has been quiet since the June 6 incident, but she isn’t certain it will remain that way.

“Once police come in and snoop around and keep an eye on everything it calms down, but as soon as the police leave it flares,” she said. “It will be interesting to see what happens.”


Ypsi Gizmo

Sun, Jul 17, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

Did you see that Brandon Hanna was arrested for receiving and concealing stolen property? Where do you think this was happening? Maybe Brandy's, which his parents own? These folks foster crime and violence in our neighborhood -- which is normally peaceful. They are bringing in the hoodlums who do business with them. What will the criminals do if we close this store? Maybe stay in their own neighborhoods. Can YPD do more? Definitely. YPD clears the place out for 5 minutes, leave and the criminals come right back. And if they are there too often the fake liberals from Ann Arbor yell harrassment. Start cleaning up your act Hanna & families. The neighbors WILL take back our neighborhood!


Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

5 ways to China and back everyone seems to reach the point it's unfair to the business to get them to do what we think is police work. If they are successful in closing the business where do they think those customers are going to go? Into the stores that don't have that problem now. Will they then close those stores? Can the store help, yes. Do they have to be substitute police, no. In fact they are not allowed. Ypsi has an economic problem not everyone handles those problems well. Why do alchohol sales go up in poor econmic times? Is the intent here to spread the problem over all the city and township? By the way this is a tactic being used on other business in Ypsi. It is only a dressing to the wound. If the shin is repeatedly injuried the get shin guards. If there is a constant problem then the police (the shin guard) need to deal with the people causing the problem Does the surronding comunity need to help? You bet and that's what Social Services should do on a proactve basis. Organise the citizens to help the police do their job it is not the stores responsibility.


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

This store is a problem. Owners have rights AND responsibilities. These owners have comletely failed on the second "R". For me the more interesting part is that Mr. Barr, with all those years of experience, had to research it to find out that the LCC doesn't pull liscenses for something like this. He was way too re-assuring in previous meetings and I find his lack of knowledge on this issue (with all the previous work Ypsi has had to do with problems like this) to be telling.


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

This place is literally a block away from the police station, why aren't ypsi police doing drive-by's on the hour? Pittsfield police do drive-by's in my apartment complex every couple of hours in the evening, why can't the police in ypsi do the same? Instead the city hassles a private business owner, and a person who is serving the community in an area with no grocery stores. I used to live over there and I used that store occasionally and yes there were people loitering, but I never felt unsafe, or had anyone bother me.


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 3:31 p.m.

Why should a store owner need to meet with neighborhood groups, install surveillance equipment, or reduce crime on or near their property? Isnt reducing crime the job of the local police dept. ? Im not saying the store owners are model citizens. If they do something illegal, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But they have no obligation to meet with groups and they have no duty to reduce crime in the area. Im sure they would love less crime in the area. Evereyone would like less crime. If the area was safer, they may get more people in their store. But quit putting the burden of group meetings and crime reduction on the back of a business owner. Its the job of the police and the court system to reduce crime, arrest criminals, keep them in jail, etc. If they dont feel the need to install cameras, why would the police require him to do so? Its not the store owners job to keep track of people. Is it for the cops to watch ? If so, they can ask the store if the police can install, pay, and track the cameras. But it isnt the store owners responsibility. The authorities need to do their job. This store owner needs to run his business.

Nate Jessee

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

Being a resident of Ypsilanti, I agree with this article. I take pride in my city, and the establishments in Ypsilanti that share the same pride do not have these issues, regardless of what part of town they are in. By not taking the proper steps to limit or eliminate loiters and trespassers you are only opening the door for those who are looking for a place to conduct their criminal acts and questionable behavior. I do understand that you cannot control what other people do, but you can certainly make it harder for them to do so. That's all, not trying to start an argument, I just want to see Ypsilanti thrive because I wouldn't live anywhere else.


Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

I'm not a fan of hole in the wall liquor stores, but all the same: how exactly is the store responsible for the actions of the citizens in the area? Is it their responsibility to intervene in a gunfights, brawls, drug dealing, etc.? Aren't the residents the real problem? Why don't the police focus on protecting the liquor store? It's not the store's responsibility to manage crime in the area.

Turd Ferguson

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.