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More cities considering open container "social districts"

The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City runs from July 5 through July 12.
User: Michigan Municipal League

More Michigan cities are applying for “social districts.”

The goal is to spur economic activity in downtown areas that suffered losses due to COVID.

Last year Michigan passed a law essentially allowing public drinking on Main Streets, as long as communites designate the area as a "social district.”

If approved by the liquor control commission, these areas will permit restaurant and bar patrons to bring their drinks outside and consume them in public spaces.

Gaylord’s city council voted to create their own drinking “Stadtplatz,” a German word for town square, which goes with their alpine theme.

Gaylor business owner Casey Buckleitner says he hopes the plan will boost tourism to Gaylord.

“We’re trying to be somewhat progressive and on the leading edge of doing something cool,” Buckleitner said.

Still, some council members worry about encouraging over-consumption and the potential liability to the city.

Other communities in northern Michigan including Grayling, Petoskey and Beaver Island are also adopting social districts.

IPR's Taylor Wizner is passionate about empowering communities through solid reporting.