Source: Sherman Publications

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Orion looking to raise money by allowing alcohol at township properties

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

May 25, 2011

By Gabriel Ouzounian

Review Staff Writer

With the introduction of the so-called Wildwood Amphitheater and the Orion Center, Orion Township has become a location with more than a few venues for groups hoping to host an event.

Thanks to a change in Ordinance 132 at a May 16 meeting, and formally adopted on May 19, alcohol may have an opportunity to be served at these events. Alcohol may also be served at township parks if interested parties gain approval from the board. Township Supervisor Matthew Gibb said the change was made to bring greater accessibility to the two locations, which the township hopes will attract attention.

"The easiest answer for why we've (changed this ordinance) is that if we're not going to raise taxes, we need to have alternative ways to raise money," said Gibb. "If you're going to have a business banquet with nice food and a nice atmosphere, chances are people are going to want to have wine with their dinner.

"Allowing them to do that is the difference of whether or not they come to our facility or go elsewhere. Having alcohol here is not our focus, but allowing it does make us more valuable."

Despite these reasons, some board members said the introduction of alcohol would harm the community. Township Clerk Penny Shults, in particular, was vehemently against the idea and said, "nothing good comes from alcohol."

"I consistently voted against having alcohol at these places because I don't think we need alcohol as a component, but the policies were changed because the other board members saw it as viable," she said "My major problem with the change was the close proximity of (the Orion Center) to Orion Oaks Elementary, and as far as the parks, they have been successful without it.

"I don't feel having alcohol is a necessary ingredient for success, but now that it's changed we need to be really careful on how this is enforced. We cannot turn the other way and we need to be mindful to enforce our ordinances strictly."

Trustee John Steimel spoke about the subject as well, but leaned toward the reasoning Gibb presented and added if "you have a place that can be rented, someone is going to want to rent it for a wine and cheese party or a wedding, and they're probably going to want alcohol."

"I really wouldn't it a good thing so much as a practical thing," said Steimel. "(The allowing of alcohol) doesn't really go across the township like people are thinking."

Gibb added, in reference to the parks, that township residents have always been able to gain approval from the board to serve alcohol at township parks, but that the occurrence of such instances have been extremely rare.

"That was nothing new," said Gibb. "We allowed it for a bocce championship at Friendship Park six years ago and again for a beer tent near one of the fire stations, and to be honest I cannot remember another time the board has given its approval since I've been here."