Zeeland considers easing alcohol restrictions

7:26 PM, Sep 14, 2012   |    comments
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ZEELAND, Mich. (WZZM) - It's been six years since Zeeland began allowing alcohol sales and ending decades as a dry community.  Now, city leaders are considering new measures to ease restrictions even more.  The changes would allow restaurants to sell alcohol-to-go.

In 1933, it took a constitutional amendment to end prohibition.  However, in 2007, a restaurant sparked a similar result in the city of Zeeland.

"I'm not out to cause any trouble by any means," says Ryan Snyder, Owner of Vitale's Pizza.

Snyder is now pushing the envelope again by asking the city for another change in the rules.

"If someone wants to take their favorite bottle of wine home, they can do it," says Snyder.

Even after prohibition ended nationally in 1933, Zeeland remained a dry city.  Then in 2007, Vitale's became the first restaurant to legally sell alcohol.  AJ's Grocery Store began selling packaged alcohol in 2008.  Earlier this year, the first downtown restaurant, named Public, began selling drinks.  Zeeland Mayor Kevin Klynstra says the city is trying to work with local businesses.

"If they needed something,we reviewed it, and if it seemed like a good idea, we passed it," says Mayor Klynstra.

Although Vitale's helped spark the changes to the alcohol ordinance, Snyder does not want it to define his restaurant.  He says his pizza was the biggest factor in his success over the last 22 years.

Under current rules, grocers can sell packaged alcohol and restaurants can sell beer, wine, and spirits by the drink.  Vitale's now wants to sell take-out six-packs and wine bottles.

"There haven't been problems with the current ordinance and I don't think its a problem to expand it further," says Steve McNeely, Zeeland resident.

"It would send a message that it's OK to drink whenever you want," says Zeeland resident Laurie Summers, who opposes expanding the ordinance.

"If they approve it fine. If not, we'll keep plugging along," says Snyder.

However, Snyder says selling alcohol has allowed him to hire more employees.

Zeeland will hold a public hearing on the proposed license changes on Monday night.

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