Holly Moves Forward with Creation of Social District for Outdoor Drinking
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan 16, 2021)
Holly, MI – The Village of Holly joins three other Oakland County municipalities in moving towards establishment of a Social District to allow for outside consumption of adult beverages in specially approved areas.
In July 2020 the State of Michigan enacted a law that gives local governments the power to create social districts where licensed liquor establishments can opt in to allowing alcohol and food purchases to be carried into a “commons” are for outdoor consumption.
This allows outdoor drinking and eating in a way that has reduced risk of COVID-19 spread than being inside a crowded bar or restaurant. Districts are in effect until Dec. 31, 2024.
Holly is the fourth in Oakland County to begin the process, following Clarkston, Farmington, and Lake Orion. Northville also has a social district, though it’s on the Wayne County side.
In Holly, the recently approved social district includes Battle Alley, Alley Street, and part of S. Saginaw Street in the downtown. The district has been approved but an accompanying ordinance is expected to be voted on at the Village Council’s Feb. 9 meeting. The projected start date is March 1.
The area will have to be properly signed, and there will be special cups approved by the village. The cups must have secure lids without straw holes, the idea being that people should not be walking around drinking.
The Village, working with the Downtown Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce, is considering what other features might be helpful in creating the ambiance of outdoor camaraderie.
“The are many possibilities including a small stage, fountain, potted trees or plants, public art, the sky is the limit,” said Village Manager Jerry Walker.
Holly has been making improvements to its historic downtown with a momentum that has grown in the past few years. Professionally-done murals tell stories of Holly’s past, a new clock tower provides seating as does a slew of seating options added when Battle Alley was closed to vehicle traffic, and the rows of string lights added to form a sparkling canopy over the gathering space.
“Battle Alley already is a destination location, the eating area has been very successful since its closing in March to assist the restaurants. As we move back to warmer months its popularity should only increase. Increased dining should lead to increased foot traffic in all the other downtown businesses also,” Walker said.
George Kutlenios, owner of the Holly Hotel, has had outdoor dining and drinking in their own outdoor patio area for years, and can see the potential for the broader business community.
“With theCOVID limitations, we utilized this space this past summer and fall more than we have in the past,” Kutlenios said. “Since we already have a licensed area that serves as our own “social district,” we would not necessarily utilize any other areas in town that might be designated as such. We, however, do recognize that other State licensed establishments may not have an established approved space and the new social district would probably benefit them.”
He is very happy with the closure of Battle Alley and the sight people being able to enjoy the space.. “We’ve been waiting since 1984 when the efforts to close the street were first made,” he said.
Village of Holly Police will continue to patrol the area as normal, and cleanup efforts will be managed by the Department of Public Works with participating businesses also being asked to help. Walker is confident people will do their part.
“We are very proud of our historical downtown along with the merchants and residents who make it what it is,” he said. ‘We really believe it is special and unique and will only get better. Our tagline for the village is “Timeless Appeal-Hometown Feel” and we want everyone to come experience the magic we all enjoy on daily basis.”