The Ludington City Council established a social district within downtown at its regular meeting Monday evening.
The meeting was held virtually. The recording is available on the City of Ludington’s Facebook page.
The social district allows a patron to purchase alcohol to be put inside a marked cup — distributed by establishments with a special license from the state — and walk around a designated location.
The social district management plan and map were approved as proposed.
The vote passed, 6-1, with Councilor Les Johnson voting against. Councilors that voted for the creation of the social district were John Terzano, Ted May, Kathy Wincezewski, Cheri Stibitz, Wally Cain and Dave Bourgette.
The social district is along South James Street, south of Ludington Avenue, and ends at Melendy Street. It branches off James Street to include streets and alleys.
Patrons will not be allowed to enter another business or establishment with their “to-go” cups.
The concept was initiated by the state, as Heather Tykoski, the community development director, reminded the board during the meeting.
The purpose was to provide restaurants and bars an additional revenue stream while restrictions prevented or limited seating capacity. Various cities around the state, such as Rockford and Cadillac, embraced the idea.
It was discussed at a previous meeting when it first came from the state in July. It was sent to the committee level to consider the feasibility of allowing it in Ludington.
As of the time of the meeting, Tykoski said there were five bar/restaurants ready to apply for the license to sell the to-go cups.
The cups will enable patrons to drink outside, and potentially browse shop windows, while waiting to be seated at the bar or restaurant.
The additional state license costs $250. The city does not oversee the licensing or have a fee in place for the businesses to participate in the social district.
There were concerns from the public and councilors about enforcing the rules, additional costs to city for disposal and the potential impact on neighboring businesses.
The proposed resolution, plan and map were discussed at length.
The cups and stickers will be sold through the city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) from 50 cents to $1 per cup and stickers for $1 each.
Money raised by the program will be put toward cups, security and enforcement, sanitation, signage, marketing and entertainment.
Tykoski said sponsors are funding the signage that will mark the district.
Foster reminded the council that if it doesn’t work out for the city, they can adjust the plan.
The city can also rescind the social district by holding a public meeting, according to City Attorney Ross Hammersley.
The state statute has an expiration date for 2024.
Council Stibitz asked how businesses not in the district could participate. Foster and Tykoski said it is possible to create additional districts in the city if there is interest. Businesses should contact the DDA or Foster.