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Posted on Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

Ypsilanti City Council considers opting out of law allowing Sunday morning liquor sales

By Tom Perkins

Governor Jennifer Granholm recently signed legislation allowing Sunday morning liquor sales, but the Ypsilanti City Council is considering continuing to prohibit sales before noon.

Julie Wendt, director of executive services for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, said the Sunday morning sales ban is automatically lifted on Dec. 16 unless a municipality passes a resolution “opting out” of the new law. The municipality must then notify the LCC of its intention and specify what time it will permit sales.

City Council discussed the issue and took an unofficial straw vote at Tuesday’s meeting. Council Members Dan Vogt, Mike Bodary, Ricky Jefferson, Pete Murdock and Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson spoke in favor of opting out. Mayor Paul Schreiber and, after the meeting, Council Member Brian Robb expressed a desire to allow Sunday sales.

Council will vote on the issue at a special meeting during its Dec. 14 budget goal setting session at Spark East. The budget goal setting session begins at 6 p.m., though there will be a separate special meeting to vote on the Sunday sales resolution.

Ann Arbor appears ready to let the new law take effect.

"We will take a look at it, but I don't think we're going to be doing anything in particular," Ann Arbor City Attorney Stephen Postema said.

Jefferson said at Tuesday’s meeting that he didn’t see a need to change anything. Murdock felt the same.

“I just didn’t see any particular upside to it,” he said.

Bodary said Thursday that he first opposed lifting the ban, but is reconsidering the more he analyzes the situation and talks with others. He said he doesn’t understand why someone would want to drink early Sunday morning, but he doesn’t wish to place his value judgments on others.

He said he also recognizes that Sunday is the Sabbath for Christians, but pointed out that other days are the Sabbath in other religions and he is reluctant to mix church and state. Not allowing Sunday morning sales could also put Ypsilanti businesses at a disadvantage, Bodary said.

Thumbnail image for CORNER_BREWERY.jpg

Matt and Rene Greff own the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti. They oppose continuing the ban on Sunday morning liquor sales.

“I’m not diametrically opposed to liquor sales on Sunday,” Bodary said. “There are issues about liquor sales in general and responsible drinking, but as far as responsible adults buying alcohol on Sunday goes, the more I think about it, we should go with the laws of the state.”

Schreiber and Robb said the change would simply make Sunday like any other day of the week.

“I don’t see an issue with making Sunday morning the same as every other morning, but other council members felt differently,” Schreiber said.

Rene Greff owns the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti with her husband, Matt, and sits on the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority. Matt Greff was part of the Michigan Brewer’s Guild legislative team that helped work to get the legislation passed this year.

Rene Greff said she was stunned when she heard council was leaning toward opting out of the new law.

“It never even occurred to me that they would opt out of something that we have worked so hard at the state level for for years,” she said. “To single Ypsilanti out as not being a part of that is astounding to me.”

She said her own business wouldn’t be affected much either way because the Corner Brewery doesn’t open until noon, but she said it puts Ypsilanti at a competitive disadvantage. She said restrictive laws could drive potential businesses from Ypsilanti to surrounding communities, which increases the chances for vacant spaces downtown.

“For a city that talks about wanting to be a cool city with a hip vibe, this certainly is not sending that message,” she said. “This (law) is so antiquated that I can't even believe in this day and age that our council members in Ypsilanti are even having a discussion.”


Steve Pierce

Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 3:46 p.m.

Rene, Good news, The next time St Patrick day falls on a Sunday is 2013. So no need to rush the Sunday morning sales ban. You got two years. And it isn't just one problem party store in one neighborhood. There are number of problem stores that aren't in the business district but in neighborhoods that for the neighbors surrounding those business drives them nuts. Neighbors and residents have been assaulted, robbed, property and cars vandalized and much more. I once asked the owner of one of these businesses why he doesn't call the police about the drug and gang activity going on in his parking lot. He said he was fearful for his life. If he is fearful, imagine how his neighbors and their children feel. If the homeowner reports the problem, the liquor store owner or their kids sometimes tell the bad guys who in the neighborhood is calling the police. You keep saying the City needs to crack down on the problem party stores. The City has cracked down and the City has done a very good job. The fault is not the neighbors nor the City. The problem is the Liquor Control Commission (LCC) that allows these problem store owners to escape a shutdown by transferring the license to a family member, forcing the city to start documenting the problems all over. Rene, I wish you and the powerful liquor and restaurant lobby would come to the aid of our City and help the City close down nuisance businesses that sell liquor. Until other responsible liquor establishments start helping our city to fight the bad players in the liquor business, then there will always be a struggle between business that want to sell alcohol and home and business owners tired of dealing with the aftermath of that liquor sale in their neighborhood. Cheers! - Steve


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 10:31 a.m.

@Steve Pierce - Believe it or not, as a business owner and citizen in Ypsilanti, I sometimes support things that won't necessarily have a direct economic impact on me because I believe they are in the best interest of our community. No, I didn't rush out to apply for Sunday morning sales because as I stated in the article you commented on, we do not plan to offer Sunday morning sales as a regular part of our business. We don't open before noon any other day of the week and have no immediate plans to change that. This isn't about me, it's about our community - it's "brand", it's opportunities, it's competitiveness, and it's quality of life. I might apply for the Sunday sales license purely to be able to open at 7am when St Patrick's Day happens to fall on a Sunday. I hate the thought of people going to neighboring communities instead of supporting local businesses on days like St Patrick's Day, or of Ypsilanti restaurants being unable to compete with other restaurants offering champagne brunches on Mother's Day, graduation weekend, and other special events. And it probably matters even less to me personally because many of my regulars would go to Arbor Brewing instead. But that isn't the point. I just don't want council to drive business away from Ypsilanti - especially when so many of us are working to attract business. Believe me, a few thousand dollars here and there really adds up in this economy and for some businesses may be the difference between keeping the lights on or going dark. I'm not asking for council to do anything special to support local businesses - just not to pass unnecessary regulations that harm them. I also disagree with your assertion that this isn't about bars and restaurants but it's about one poorly behaved licence holder in your neighborhood. If the problem is one bad business, then why doesn't the city crack down on that business rather than restrict the rights and opportunities of the entire community? I would never impose a restrictive policy on my entire staff because of one poorly behaved employee. Why on earth would the council do that to an entire community!? The vast majority of license-holders in Ypsilanti are good corporate citizens who pay our taxes, take seriously our obligation to sell alcohol responsibly, and are sensitive to the impact our businesses have on our neighbors and our communities. The city can contact the Michical Liquor Control Commission and ask that the license of any business be revoked if they are not following the law and causing a public nuisance. I am glad that council took the time to sort out the confusion in the law and I hope that they will take the time to consider the long-term implications of putting unnecesary restrictions on our community.

Steve Pierce

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 9:50 p.m.

Bluefire, This isn't a religious issue. It pushing back on irresponsible business owners of a small minority of party store owners terrorizing neighborhoods by harboring drug dealers and participating or condoning in other illegal activity on their property. - Steve


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 5:42 p.m.

Finally. I, too, am tired of having others' religious beliefs forced on me, and there is no other reason for the Sunday morning ban on alcohol sales than a religious one. But in my opinion, this law doesn't go far enough. It's also time to remove the ban on alcohol sales on Christmas day, for the same reason.

Steve Pierce

Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 12:47 p.m.

Thomas, well said. - Steve


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 9:22 a.m.

I agree with Steve and the council on this one (though probably not for the same reasons). If we weren't able to buy alcohol prior to noon on Sunday until this new law came up, what are people bitching about? Their Sunday shopping? Mimosas at brunch? When did you buy your booze then? After noon or possibly the day before? We don't need any more alcohol outlets in this city. And people working third shift? Where did they go to drink before this? Stay there. And @Andy - party stores are the worst! Brandy's and others are complete menaces to the good and law-abiding people of this fair city. If I could ban them from selling alcohol completely, I would! Go to the township or AA to get your fix. We have enough problems.

Steve Pierce

Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 5:46 p.m.

Wise, No one has suggested an all day Sunday ban so everything will still be as it is today. You and I will still be able to go to Aubree's and watch the Steelers game on Sunday and have a beer. Cheers! - Steve

Steve Pierce

Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 5:26 p.m.

Sandy, It isn't just two stores. There are a number of stores across the City that are chronic problems. Selling stolen goods, expired food, selling drug paraphernalia, selling single cigarettes, selling to impaired people and much more. The LCC rarely if ever closes a store and when they do it is just days or week. The City has spent 10's of thousands of dollars on undercover stings and documenting problems. Neighbors have collected photos and videos of constant drug deals occurring in parking lots. The City and neighborhoods has done everything they can, the problem is the LCC won't take the license away. If they do get close on closing them, the owners transfer the license to a brother, cousin, or daughter and so with new owners claim they shouldn't be punished and they re-open. Go in a month later and the same people are still their behind the counter and the same problems continue. No one would care if the responsible owners like the French's or the Greff's want to sell beer at 7am on Sunday morning. The problem is the irresponsible owners. So far not one of the responsible owners has said they want to sell at 7am on Sunday, so there is no need to rush a decision. Instead the City is figuring out how to to make this work without making things worse for neighbors and businesses struggling with a small number of business owners that simply suck the life out of a community. - Steve

Sandy Castle

Sat, Dec 11, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

Regarding the issue of the two party stores that have frequent criminal and nuisance problems on and around their premises. It doesn't seem to me that the entire city opting out of Sunday morning sales is the best way to address these concerns. It surprises me that these two stores still have their liquor licenses. Isn't there some way to file complaints with the liquor commission and have their licenses revoked?


Sat, Dec 11, 2010 : 12:16 p.m.

Agreed, prohibition is ridiculous, and I too am angry at having the moral values of others, which I do not even share, shoved down my throat - I cannot put into words how offensive it is to be required by law to hold to someone elses RELIGIOUS beliefs, here in america. Also, did it never occur to these folk that some people work the night shift, and because of these laws have to go out at what is to them, the middle of their sleep cycle if they want to buy a sixer? And, of course once again, just as with medical marijuana and other related issues it comes to "We don't like the law so we're not going to obey it", holding themselves up as above and beyond the laws that apply to us mere peons - only I think us peons might have a little something to say about it at the ballot box next time around... I know for a fact I will.


Sat, Dec 11, 2010 : 8:51 a.m.

It would be absolutely ridiculous to ban liquor sales all day on Sunday as that is when many people do their shopping for the entire week.

Tom Perkins

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 5:29 p.m.

Midtowner, "Pick" might not have been the best word choice. I'm sure there will be a healthy discussion and when it appears there's support for one of the resolutions, they will vote on it.


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 4:53 p.m.

Is that a joke Tom? Three resolutions and they pick one? Who's leading this city? This place ia a joke.

Tom Perkins

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 3:54 p.m.

Here's the latest update: Ed Koryzno is preparing three resolutions. One banning liquor sales all day Sunday, one prohibiting liquor sales before noon and one allowing liquor sales all day. Council picks one. The council packet should be online shortly.

Steve Pierce

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 3:26 p.m.

No Andy, What I am saying is the Council was correct to get the facts first from the LCC. Then before they make a decision, I am encouraging the Council to talk to neighborhood associations and residents to see what they think about Sunday Morning Liquor sales. Then get input from local liquor establishments to see what they suggest. If there is not a huge clamoring for new permits, there is no need to rush. Funny, that is the exact same advice you gave council regarding the ticket fee for city park events when you asked for thoughtful deliberation and for the council to bring in stake holders to discuss the matter further. You and I agree, this should be the way all decisions are made. The problem was the LCC hadn't made up their mind on how they were going to enforce the rules so the council asked for more information. For example, with careful deliberation and some planning, it may be possible to craft zoning rules that would prevent liquor stores that are in residential neighborhoods or that are non-conforming uses to prevent them from selling on Sunday morning but still allow liquor stores in commercial and business districts like Downtown and Depot Town to have Sunday morning sales so you could get your Bloody Mary at 11:30am rather than 30 minutes later. That sort of planning and research would be something that would be helpful to neighborhoods and business districts. But we can't do that if the City Council makes a snap decision with no facts and no input from residents and businesses. Cheers! -= Steve

Steve Pierce

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 3:11 p.m.

John and Lisa, You are absolutely correct. It was prescient for City Council to wait and get info from the LCC before rushing to judgement. Not only was it prescient, it was good sound business practice. Rob Piercefield, president of the Mulliken Village Council in Michigan, said he wished the commission would have clarified the issue earlier this month. Piercefield said agency officials had told him a Sunday morning ban was not an option. That was because his village council had already voted on the matter with bad information from the LCC. Cheers! - Steve

Tom Perkins

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 3:02 p.m.

Advance Ypsilanti, I spoke with representatives from the LCC and the Michigan Municipal League yesterday late afternoon/early evening. The LCC is allowing municipalities to choose when they begin selling liquor on Sunday, as I stated in the article. I understand what the LCC's website says, but the LCC's website is not up to date. Additionally, I have a "sample resolution" Paul Schreiber forwarded from Ed Koryzno. It will prohibit the sale of alcohol until noon on Sunday.


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 1:56 p.m.

@Steve, so what you are saying is that, because we have two liquor stores in Ypsilanti that are detrimental to the neighborhoods they are in, the rest of the city should have to live with a ban on Sunday sales? Those people who would like to host a Sunday brunch or have a Bloody Mary with lunch at 11:30 should be subject to the ban, because we can't seem to get the problems associated with two, maybe three stores under control? As Councilman Robb sated during the medical marijuana debate, thats a policy based on fear, and that's bad policy. And lets face it, your extra five hours of peace and quit one day a week may be nice, but fixing the problem is what we need to concentrate on. Oh, and, thanks to whoever is moderating for letting Steve contribute to this discussion, even though his post clocks in at 432 words. Since he's contributing new and relevant information, I appreciate you making such a difficult exception.

Advance Ypsilanti

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 1:55 p.m.

Awfully prescient of council since LLC staff had not defined the AM opt out until 12/9/2010 according to MMLs assistant director of state affairs.

Steve Pierce

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

What City Council is doing is responsible not anti-cool as Rene Greff argues. First the new law is flawed and it was members on City Council that were one of the first to notice the problem. If a community opts out of Sunday sales it bans all sales on Sunday, not Sunday just morning. Oops. The Liquor Control Commission (LCC) admitted the law is flawed and opting out of Sunday morning sales could mean banning all Sunday sales. The Ypsilanti City Council took the responsible approach by not just assuming anything and asked for clarification. But here is where the haters at Advance Ypsilanti are wrong, again. On Wednesday Dec 8, just two days ago, the LCC reversed their position saying a community opting out of Sunday morning still allows Sunday sales starting at 12 noon. This is what you get when you have a good City Council that actually reads the law and asks questions. The council also rightfully noted that if they did nothing, liquor businesses could apply for the $160 annual permit to allow Sunday morning sales. Yet there has been no opportunity to hear from neighborhood associations that would be most impacted by this new law if they wanted Party Stores in their neighborhood to start selling on Sunday morning. Council also pointed out that no Downtown or Depot Town business including the Greffs had applied or expressed any interest in offering Sunday morning liquor sales. So there was no rush to move on this without first getting some important questions answered both by the LCC and from residents that live near troublesome party stores. It is too bad that a small minority of folks continue their constant attack on City Council when everyone from the city attorney, local lobbyists, all the way to our legislators and even the LCC agreed that the questions the City Council of Ypsilanti were asking were good questions that needed to be answered. Other communities that have already opted out of Sunday sales were left facing a very mad group of Restaurant and Bar owners who suddenly learned that they may not be able to sell any alcohol on Sundays. Ypsilanti City Council avoided all that by first getting clarification of the law. Now, other communities that rushed their decisions are having to go back and either undo past resolutions or reconsider their actions. The City of Ypsilanti, instead of making a rush decision, first did their homework. That is a change in how past Ypsilanti City Council's have worked and thankfully it is change for the better. Cheers! - Steve


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 1:26 p.m.

I am shocked, SHOCKED, that the owners of a brewery oppose continuing the Sunday morning alcohol sales ban. Who woulda thunk it


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 1:23 p.m.

I have more positive view on sunday morning liquor sales. I think this action along with medical marijuana will spark an economic revival for ypsilanti. I promise to buy all of my liquor on sunday mornings at Brandy's or Joe's Market. More liquor and marijuana is just what this uptight town needs! My only complaint is Deja vu opens so late on sundays.

Steve Pierce

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 12:58 p.m.

Tell the Midtown and Worden Gardens neighborhood in Ypsilanti that Brandy's will be able to sell liquor on Sunday morning. I am sure they will be thrilled. The issue is not restaurants or bars selling Sunday morning. It is the irresponsible but seemingly immune party stores. Not all party stores are irresponsible. But we all know which ones in Ypsilanti have problems. All you have to do is look at the calls for police service. Some locations are three and four times as high as other stores in the city. Rene Greff doesn't have to deal with the fallout of a liquor store that terrorizes a neighborhood. The downtown Ypsi liquor store was a nightmare that thankfully has closed. For many neighborhoods including mine, Sunday morning is the only respite we get from a nearly 19 hour a day problem. Already Flint Township and Zeeland and a number of other communities have opted out of Sunday morning sales.

Advance Ypsilanti

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 12:33 p.m.

Due to changes enacted in state law, opting out of Sunday liquor sales means no sales on Sunday (and it does not mean just those before 12 noon). The legislature did not add a separate provision for early morning liquor sales, they revised the existing law for Sunday sales to be between 7 AM Sunday through 2 AM Monday. Council members would be wise to review the DELEG Liquor Control Commission advisement on this issue:

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 11:43 a.m.

I am kind of surprised about this. What possible reason would anyone have other than some Christian morality reason to ban alcohol sales on Sunday morning when they are allowed on the other six mornings a week?

David Briegel

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 11:39 a.m.

Hypsilanti or Puritan Village?


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 11:17 a.m.

I will just go shopping in Ann Arbor or elsewhere. Interesting that Ypsilanti beat Ann Arbor city council to the punch on this issue. I am guessing it will come about soon in Ann Arbor as well. Are you allowed to go against a state law like this? If so, couldn't bars start allowing smoking again in their establishments? Just wondering!!


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 9:57 a.m.

nanny statism (or citism in this case).


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 9:54 a.m.

Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. - Winston Churchill Prohibition is dead. Other than to spawn the creation of speakeasies and the legendary Capone empire, it was a failure. The land area of the City of Ypsilanti is four square miles. From any point in the City, it is less than three miles to a point in Ypsilanti Township (which surrounds the City) where a licensed beer, wine, and liquor dealer, or a licensed restaurant/bar can be found. Since those establishments can be open during the five hour hiatus, those who want to purchase alcohol or imbibe will have easy access to it. City Council, in a "straw vote", apparently thinks it can preserve the City's nineteenth century quaintness by imposing a five hour twentieth century failure upon its residents and merchants. Aren't these the same people who thought that building condonimuims on the flood plain of the Huron River was a great idea?


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 9:33 a.m.

Why is it any business of the government - Federal, State, City or otherwise - when I purchase anything? Don't politicians have anything better to do? Obviously not. Vote them all out.

Rork Kuick

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 9:32 a.m.

The upside is obvious, as already noted. If I go shopping on Sunday morning, and I do, I can buy what I want, unhampered by ridiculous laws. Perhaps shopping before noon on Sunday is wicked, eh?


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 9:07 a.m.

So....council wants to cut the revenue of their own businesses and give it to the township businesses? Wow.

Sandy Castle

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

ALSO, city council doesn't have any business mixing religion into their decision on this issue. If you are Christian, or Muslim, or a member of the Flying Spaghetti Cult and don't want to buy alcohol on Sunday mornings, DON'T BUY ALCOHOL and go to church!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dante Marcos

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 8:44 a.m.

After all this outcry, I doubt that Murdock and Co. LLC are going to vote to opt out. It's fine to be a Christian; it's not fine (pace Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971) to impose a kind of 19th Century Christian social imperative on thousands of non-Christians, who tend to do grocery shopping Sunday morning.

Sandy Castle

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 8:34 a.m.

I can't believe they're considering opting out of the new law. That's ridiculous. I often grocery shop on Sunday mornings so I have items for the next work week and it's a huge inconvenience to not be able to get everything I need at one time, at one stop. There are townships on the West side of the state that don't allow alcohol sales AT ALL on Sundays and I have to tell you how frustrating it was the first time I found THAT out on a holiday weekend!!!! Needless to say, I don't shop in that township any longer. Stores in Ypsilanti WILL lose business if you are able to get your alcohol in another city or township.


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 8:18 a.m.

@MjC, what example are they supposedly trying to set? As others have already mentioned, they're limiting sales hours for businesses in Ypsi. It's not going to stop people from buying alcohol, they'll just drive to Ann Arbor. If the council is supposedly setting some moral example, it's not their place to do so.


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 8:11 a.m.

Seriously, if you're a college town (as Ypsilanti is) isn't it better to set an example by leaving the law as it is?

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 7:15 a.m.

many like a beer after work too. Some of those folks work an overnight shift on Saturday night. If my pocket calculator serves me the current law allows for 128 hours a week to purchase alcohol. The new rules loosen that up to a whopping 133 hours.


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 7:06 a.m.

Why in the world would City Council want to take these potential sales away from Ypsilanti (City) merchants?? People are going to buy on Sunday morning anyway, so why give the business away to retailers outside the city limits? Head in the sand mentality I fear!! the dog (drinking a beer)

dading dont delete me bro

Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 6:42 a.m.

i guess i'll have to take the long drive to ypsilanti township or superior township to buy my alcohol before sunday's game...


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 6:30 a.m.

I'm weary of others forcing their values upon me. Why have liquor sales on Sunday morning? Many enjoy a nice mimosa during Sunday brunch. Many find themselves shopping on Sunday morning and it makes no sense to make them take another trip just to get alcoholic beverages. Many like to have a beer or two while watching football. The best way to do that is get a growler at Corner Brewery prior to the game. Please Ypsilanti politicians, just let the law take effect.