Local governments can set limits on alcohol sales through zoning regulations, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed.
The opinion upheld a Bloomfield Township zoning regulation that set limits on package alcohol sales at gas stations as being permissible under state law. The regulations had been challenged by Maple BPA, which was denied a liquor license by the state Liquor Control Commission for a gas station because it did not comply with local zoning regulations.
Bloomfield Township’s zoning regulations required at least 2,640 feet, or one half-mile, between package alcohol outlets, and the state commission requires at least 50 feet between gasoline pumps and a retailer’s cash register in order to be eligible for a license.
An inspection by Bloomfield Township police found that Maple BPA’s register was 47 feet from its pumps, and that the gas station was too close to other licensed retailers. After the state commission denied a license, Maple BPA appealed the decision and was denied, according to the appeals court.
Maple BPA later filed a lawsuit challenging whether or not the zoning regulations were constitutional and alleging that due process had been violated. An amended zoning regulation was later passed by Bloomfield Township which removed the half-mile distance requirement, but set other restrictions on lot size, the types of services the gas station could offer and how close the station was to a residential area.
The appeals court concluded that because the state law creating the Liquor Control Commission specifically mentions local zoning regulations, local governments are permitted to set their own regulations regarding where alcohol may be sold.
“We conclude that the Commission’s decision to recognize local zoning authority indicates that the Legislature did not intend to preempt every local zoning statute that concerns alcoholic beverage sales,” the court stated.
Additionally, the court decided, the revised zoning ordinance does not conflict with state regulations on alcohol sales, it is not prohibited by state law. The court concluded that Maple BPA presented no evidence the regulations were contrary to either the Michigan Constitution or the U.S. Constitution.
“We conclude that state law does not preempt the field of liquor control regulation and that Maple BPA provided no evidence from which the trial court could conclude that Bloomfield Township’s ordinance was arbitrary and capricious. We also conclude that Bloomfield Township’s ordinance is uniform under the Zoning Enabling Act and that it is constitutional,” the court stated.