Birmingham to Investigate South's Liquor License
In addition, City Manager Bob Bruner said the city plans to re-evaluate how Class C "quota" liquor licenses are approved.
After a shooting outside South Bar prompted anger and anxiety among residents, City Manager Bob Bruner has launched an official investigation of the bar's liquor license.
Bruner said he's directed the City Attorney's Office and the Birmingham Police Department to investigate the number of incidents at South, as well as other restaraunts and bars around the city. City officials will also address the number of times police have made contact with either the restaurant or its patrons.
"(This will) determine whether or not a pattern of patron conduct exists that would warrant a public hearing," Bruner said.
Should a public hearing be needed, the city may request that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) revoke South Bar's liquor license.
In addition, Bruner said the city will also investigate ways to better control Birmingham's liquor licenses in the future.
Police continue to investigate, petition close to 150 signatures
Police Chief Don Studt said his team is still investigating the April 2 incident, in which a 29-year-old Redford woman shot a handgun into the air after a fight erupted outside South after the bar closed at 2 a.m.
After a photo of the woman was released to the media on April 4, the woman turned herself into police. Studt said police are still interviewing witnesses and hope to have their report turned over to the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office by the end of the week.
Following the incident, Studt said Birmingham police would also be increasing police patrols downtown. The city's formal investigation — plus the hearing if it's needed — allows the city to take a closer look at South and determine whether there's a problem.
"Seeking revocation has significantly legal consequences for both the city and the licensee, so the City Commission will carefully consider this option with advice from the city attorney," Bruner said.
A request to revoke South Bar's liquor license was initiated by Downtown Publications, publisher of Birmingham's Downtown Birmingham/Bloomfield. A day after the shooter turned herself in, the group launched a petition on Change.org, urging the Birmingham City Commission to challenge South's liquor license with the MLCC.
As of Tuesday evening, the petition had 146 signatures, and ignited a firestorm of comments on Birmingham Patch.
In a comment on Patch, Downtown Publications publisher David Hohendorf said he feels his family and magazine staff, both of which are based downtown, are threatened by the violence at South.
"No one else seems to be ready to lead the charge on this issue," he wrote. "Part of our role as a member of the community is to shape public policy, especially when no one else seems to be willing to stick their neck out, so to speak."
Liquor license approval process to come under consideration
In addition, Bruner said the city plans on re-evaluate how it handles Class C "quota" liquor licenses, the kind of liquor license South Bar has.
Class C "quota" licenses are the personal property of their owner and can be transferred from one location to another with city approval. There are currently 16 quota licenses in Birmingham, all of which were approved after 1972, when the move was approved by a ballot measure.
Bruner said the city plans to compare the process of acquiring a quota license to that of acquiring a bistro license, which requires a special land use permit and the licensee to enter into a contract with the city.
"The contract and special land use permit give the city much more control over bistros than we have over the 'quota' licensed establishments," Bruner said. "We plan to investigate options to subject 'quota' licenses to these types of controls in the future. We believe additional controls may be beneficial to both the business community and the community-at-large."
Correction: The wording of this article was changed to reflect that the shooting occurred outside South Bar in the street.