New Kirby House Owner Gets City Approval For First B&B Liquor License
The most recent liquor license request before the City of Douglas had that city’s council on Monday wondering if it may want to do the same as its counterpart across the bridge: create an ordinance so as to arm the local governing body with more local control and enforcement capability.
While discussing the petition from the Kirby House’s new owner Jay Deratany, Douglas City Council noted the city had never dealt with a liquor license application for a bed-and-breakfast business. Some city officials expressed concern over possible noise and late night activity.
To explain the situation, Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere noted that changes to Michigan law surrounding liquor licenses significantly thwarted local control and regulation, as the license application approval process initiates with the local government then proceeds forward to the state-controlled Michigan Liquor Control Commission.
The process moved in the opposite direction before the law changed.
LeFevere pointed to Saugatuck’s recently proposed ordinance amendment - the one instigated by the former Elbo Room restaurant’s recent license application - as a way to give “teeth” to the local governing body.
Deratany purchased the B&B, located at 294 W. Center St., in November 2013. He is in the process of renovating it to restore the interior and make it handicap accessible. He wants to re-open it with a new twist.
“His intent is not to have any type of night club,” attorney Jenna Miller of Sheridan Haddock, representing Deratany, told the council.
“He wants to provide a unique experience to guests by having an intimate wine and beer setting,” said Miller, who was joined by attorney Mike Haddock, also representing Deratany.
The council had a mixed response to the license request. “Personally, I am looking forward to having the Kirby House come back,” said Douglas City Council Member Greg Harvath.
However, he said he also had reservations.
“Because it’s a new business with a new idea (serving alcohol on the premises) of conducting business, I think we should have more information (before approving it),” he said.
Douglas Council Member Lisa Greenwood felt differently.
“I just don’t know how this can prevent us from upholding all the other ordinances we have,” she said, noting the city had a noise ordinance in place and also a schedule for hours of operation for restaurants having outside serving.
Comparing other businesses in the same type of commercial district as Kirby House that have gotten a license, she noted, “To me it comes down to zoning and the Dunes (Resort) is in C1.”
Douglas Mayor Jim Wiley noted, “I am wondering if we may want to do the same as Saugatuck and put a hold on this until we figure out what we want to approve.”
In defense of his client, Haddock said the former Elbo Room building in Saugatuck was located in a much different area than the Kirby House, an area that was residential and fronting a river.
“The neighbors to this property are a gas station and some new commercial businesses,” said Haddock.
At the end of the discussion, the city council unanimously gave its stamp of approval for the Kirby House, but resolved to further explore the possibility of creating an amendment similar to Saugatuck’s to address possible liquor license issues.