The Value of Working Closely with the Locals

Posted on April 19, 2012

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As you hopefully have heard by now, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission now requires  local law enforcement recommendations and local government approval (where applicable) prior to the processing of an application for a new or transfer license.  The same is true if you are applying for a new permit.

Our last post goes into more detail regarding when local government approval is necessary and what happens if that approval is withheld.  As a reminder, you will want to use the LC-1305 for local government approval and the LC-1800 for your local law enforcement recommendation.  Today, we want to briefly go over a few tips to ensuring the smoothest process when it comes to working with your local government and law enforcement unit.  In essence, the key is to “work closely” with everyone who must sign off on the application.

Our Tips:

  1. Review local ordinances.  These are commonly accessible online through your local government unit’s webpage.  Many local governments will in fact have ordinances governing liquor license applications.  Of particular importance is a type of ordinance that we recently ran into – one which required that an applicant apply to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission before requesting local government approval.  This ordinance also required that the Commission provide the local government with the necessary resolution forms.  Obviously, this is no longer possible; in such a case, we recommend contacting and working with your local government to ensure that they understand the Commission’s new requirements.
  2. Contact your local law enforcement and local government early on to ensure that you have any information they may  ask for, as well as any fees that they may require.  Some local governments &/or local law enforcement units will not process your request until and unless you provide a check covering local fees.
  3. Follow up, repeatedly.  When you initially provide the locals with your forms, also provide comprehensive contact information to ensure that you (or your attorney) is easily accessible for questions.  After initially making contact with local law enforcement (and / or the local clerk), follow up.  Local government and law enforcement officers are generally busy people.  While it is important to understand that your request may not be at the top of their “to do list,” polite requests for progress can keep the process moving.  Furthermore, local law enforcement (and local government units) may not always make a point to contact you if they have questions; instead, they may try to sort it out internally.  While this can work well, in units that deal with fewer applications, there may be confusion as to the most simple requirements.  For example, we recently had local government & law enforcement operating under the (incorrect) assumption that local government approval was necessary for an off-premise application (SDD).  Such confusion can slow the recommendation/approval process to a crawl unless you intervene and clarify the requirements.
  4. Attend the City/Village/Township meeting at which your request will be discussed.  Although this is not a requirement, and licensees who are well established in a community may not need to attend such meetings, it can be very helpful.  Oftentimes, local government officials will have questions and may become upset if you or a representative is not present to answer any such questions.  Furthermore, it is not uncommon for local government officials to become confused by the Commission’s forms; in such a case, being present can truly save the day.  For example, the LC-1305  contains the words “Topless Activity Permit.”  Even though you may not have checked this box, it is very common for local officials to see these words and immediately become concerned.  Being present at the meeting will allow you to clarify that no, you do not intend to have strippers (unless of course you do – then we simply say “good luck”).

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*This information and thoughts herein are provided by the Liquor Lawyers at Stariha & Brower, PLC.  As always, we remind readers that the materials on this site are provided purely for informational purposes and are not legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed, to be correct, complete, and current. This blog is not intended to be a source of legal advice. Therefore, the reader should not consider this information an invitation for an attorney-client relationship. Readers should always seek the advice of competent counsel.

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