Source: Sherman Publications

No liquor ban for township gas stations

by Trevor Keiser

August 10, 2011

While other areas banned liquor sales at gas stations, Independence Township won't – at least not yet.

A township resident and business owner asked the board to consider eliminating alcohol sales at gas stations.

At the Aug. 2 board meeting, Trustee Dave Lohmeier said he didn’t see any reason to pursue the matter.

“The proposition was if you sell them out of a gas station, you’re going to have bigger problems," Lohmeier said. "The assumption is it won’t be as controlled, people won’t be as educated and they’ll sell to minors more – I don’t know the data to back it up.”

Township Attorney Steve Joppich said Oakland County municipalities Southfield and Farmington Hills adopted ordinances to do so.

“There is a method of addressing this which has been somewhat tested in the courts,” Joppich said. “There is a challenge that occurred in one of the communities that did adopt an ordinance like this and it was successfully defended in the circuit court and it’s presently pending on appeal.”

Trustee Larry Rosso said they should wait until the case is resolved.

“My concern is the safety factor," Rosso said. "Gas stations are overly convenient – when people stop to get gas, especially people who shouldn’t be drinking and driving, it makes a tool assessable to get liquor or something."

Trustee Neil Wallace said it would be “picking and choosing winners and losers between different local businesses.”

“We’re saying it’s OK for a business that sells food to also sell alcohol, businesses that sell medications including prescriptions to also sell alcohol or a business that provides entertainment to also sell alcohol, but if you sell gas you can’t,” he said. “I don’t buy the premise that the availability has strong potential to encourage or facilitate alcoholic driving offenses.”

Wallace also pointed out the person who brought the complaint has a competing business.

“I think this is a solution in search of a problem,” Wallace said. “I don’t think we should go down that road, particularly not when we could just be inviting litigation.”