Zeeland plans to relax alcohol orders

ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) – The city of Zeeland will consider changing its alcohol orders next week.

Until 2006, the municipal authorities said that Zeeland was a dry community. To facilitate the licensing of alcohol, the then city council passed conservative alcohol ordinances. The rules are still in place today and are more restrictive than state guidelines.

Current municipal ordinances require a separation or “screen” between the bar and the dining room in an establishment. They also require that at least 50% of sales be food in an establishment that serves alcohol, among other things.

City council had its first reading of the amendment at its previous meeting, but took no action. They are expected to vote at a meeting on December 20. The amendment includes the following elements:

  • Remove the cap on the number of businesses that can serve / sell alcohol in the city of Zeeland, if additional sales licenses are authorized by the state of Michigan
  • Reduce the minimum number of seats in restaurants serving alcohol from 50 to 25 seats
  • Allow alcohol display areas / coolers in customer waiting area or table area and allow display of alcohol sales to exceed 5% of restaurant food and counter areas
  • Removed bar area control requirements
  • Elimination of food sales percentage requirements for small wineries, small distilleries and microbreweries
  • Allow alcohol sales on Sundays for special events
  • Reduction of the minimum age for bartenders from 21 to 18
  • Elimination of the requirement for an entertainment license from the city of Zeeland for establishments selling alcohol
  • Elimination of bar area percentage requirement relative to table or booth seating areas

“In order to provide our community with a good mix of restaurants, some that have liquor licenses and some that don’t, we need to pursue some of these other programs, and we have businesses that are interested in. do it, ”Abby deRoo said with the town’s marketing team.

Current rules only allow a total of four businesses to have liquor licenses in the city. deRoo says changing the ordinances could mean attracting new businesses and expanding existing ones.

“We want to deliver what our community wants and it can be a drink to go with their pizza or their hamburger and their fish and if it doesn’t, that’s good for us too,” said Tim VanderZwaag, owner The farm.

VanderZwaag says he and his wife took over the restaurant just before the pandemic hit. He says he is grateful that the community has supported them over the past two years.

He says that while he’s not sure if his restaurant will serve alcohol, changing the rules could mean an opportunity for other businesses to thrive.

“As a business owner we want all businesses to thrive and survive and anything that can benefit the region in the community, for businesses to survive, especially in these tough times, I am for that” , said VanderZwaag.

The Zeeland city council will vote on the new proposed changes on December 20 at 7 p.m. at the town hall. If approved, it’s unclear how soon companies might start applying for liquor licenses. The city says several companies have already expressed interest.

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