By Mike Kruzman /

The City of Brighton is continuing to move forward with the idea of a downtown social district that would allow adults the opportunity to enjoy an alcoholic beverage outside.

Last summer, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, in an executive order, allowed for the creation of social districts that would allow for open carrying and consumption of alcohol in communities that wish to do so in designated common areas.

Brighton City Council has considered the idea since then and appears to be ready to make a decision next month. During Thursday night’s Study Session, Assistant to the City Manager Henry Outlaw talked with Council on the latest ideas. The majority of Council appeared to be in favor of starting small, favoring an approach that would see the social district in play on weekends or during special events.

Restaurants and bars taking part would need to apply to City Council and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, while also following existing MLCC regulations. City approval would require other steps such as an application fee and meeting with the police department to discuss arrangements.

Patrons would be allowed to buy one drink per person, per transaction, per visit to prevent handoffs. Drinks would come in a 12oz biodegradable cup to prevent reuse, and be of a high visibility color with a sticker from its point of purchase for easier enforcement. Signs with rules and a map of the district would be posted around it, with proposed hours of noon to 10pm.

City Council asked what the rules were for downtown festival events that might have their own beer or tasting tents. The City’s legal counsel, Sarah Gabis, explained that without that specific MLCC license, those tents would essentially become an island where the social district didn’t exist. The special, festival permitees, would not have the designated cups that the businesses participating in the social district have. Their cups would not be allowed outside their tent or fenced area, nor would the special cups be allowed to be brought into them.

Jim Bohn was lone council member firmly against the idea saying he didn’t see a need for this and didn’t want to add open alcohol to their downtown. Jon Emaus felt this is an economic rehabilitation driver and said even retail businesses downtown are excited about it. Mayor Pro-Tem Susan Gardner like starting small, but wasn’t sure the Tridge and amphitheater should be a part of it, though Renee Pettingill liked the idea of the AMP being included. Jim Muzzin said he was “110% in favor of this for special events and 100% in support of the other side.” He also offered the idea of it being open Thursday through Saturday.

Kristopher Tobbe asked Brighton Police Chief Rob Bradford about enforcement. Bradford said he thought it would actually be harder to enforce and see the drinks sticking out during special events when there are larger crowds downtown than it would be with fewer people. Mayor Shawn Pipoly said he’s not thinking of this as people getting drunk and running back into establishments for more drinks, but rather in his mind, he pictures a couple getting a glass of wine and sitting down at the AMP to enjoy the weather.

Outlaw said he will take what he heard and bring something back to Council in June for a vote.