Traverse City Commissioners Say No to Temporary Ban on New Liquor Licenses in Town

Traverse City commissioners agree that controlling alcohol downtown is a big issue.

Noise, safety and intoxication are all major concerns, especially downtown, where there is a high concentration of bars.

The city has 179 active liquor licenses at 101 separate locations. In 2018, it cost Traverse City Police more than $13,000 to investigate and enforce liquor licensing in town.

Commissioners Brian McGillivary and Roger Putman suggested a temporary, six month ban on issuing new liquor licenses in town.

But Monday night, the board voted down that measure.

Commissioner Amy Shamroe said the moratorium could affect development of new businesses on Eighth Street, which is currently under construction until October. She wants the city to attract shops and restaurants to the street and a temporary ban on new licenses could impede that.

Others said the moratorium wouldn’t fix the underlying issues.

City clerk Benjamin Marentette is creating a task force to study the problems surrounding alcohol downtown to make a game plan for what commissioners could do next.

“I really would prefer for this task force to have the opportunity to look at all sorts of issues from A to Z and take a really holistic, from the mountaintop approach rather than just…banning the issue and any new licenses at this point in time,” said Marentette.

Marentette is also brainstorming alcohol awareness campaigns to help promote drinking responsibly in town.