Farmington Hills City Council approves ordinance amendments aimed at improving safety at local businesses

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published November 22, 2021

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FARMINGTON HILLS — The Farmington Hills City Council unanimously approved amendments for three ordinances that pertain to business licensing recently.

Two of the ordinance amendments were aimed at smoking lounges, miniature golf courses, go-kart tracks and arcades.

Council Member Ken Massey provided a synopsis.

“What this was, was a business ordinance that allows for, when there are problems, that there are laws that allow for the Police Department to go in and correct the issues. That’s what they are. … Business-oriented, that they have to have appropriate security and appropriate control of their locations,” Massey said. “All three of those are companion ordinances that were done to allow for control.”

Aside from security, Massey pointed out another aspect of the ordinances.

“You also needed to have, that there were hours that you can have your business open,” he said. “It all stemmed from some of the problems that we had seen in those particular industries, and we just (want to) make sure that we’re staying ahead for (the) health and safety of the community.”

Massey explained what was occurring at what he described as a “sports and games place.”

“The long and short of it is, at the sports place we were seeing groups of kids that would get into fights,” he said. “They were dropped off; they were younger, and not necessarily Farmington or Farmington Hills residents. They were having altercations. That resulted in the Police Department being called to break them up.”

Massey also detailed some of what was occurring at hookah lounges.

“There is not supposed to be any alcohol consumption going on at those locations. And yet, what we were seeing were people who were getting intoxicated, some fights; and what they were doing was going out to the parking lot,” he said. “On a couple of occasions, there (was) some gunplay; some shots fired in the parking lot. Nobody was injured, but those types of things were certainly not something we (want to) see in the community.”

Incidents such as that helped encourage City Council to limit hours of operation for lounges.

“They were always happening later in the evening, so by putting some hours, open and close, in that — I think we went with 1 a.m. They can’t stay open until two o’clock in the morning. And just some performance objectives that got put into the ordinances,” Massey said.

According to Farmington Hills Council member Valerie Knol, “We did not come to these changes lightly.”

“We want the community to be safe, so when we have a propensity for issues, potentially violent issues, we have to take a look at our ordinances and come up with a thoughtful solution,” Knol said. “When you have a handful of people that are ruining it for everyone, we have to put measures into place that can protect the rest of the patrons.”

Knol specifically addressed the issue of guns in relation to hookah lounges.

“The council had multiple discussions about this because it was not our intent to put anyone out of business,” she said. “We had many discussions with the police chief (and) reviewed the type of gun violence that was happening. … I am not aware that we’ve had any sort of incidences involving guns or violence at the hookah lounges very recently, so hopefully, the ordinance changes have helped.”

Ordinance violations could lead to fines and even judges ordering businesses to close, according to Massey.

However, he did say business proprietors “want a safe establishment as well.”

Despite certain types of businesses being referenced in the ordinances, Massey wanted to make something clear.

“We’re not singling out specific businesses,” he said. “We have ordinances within the business ordinance — subsections to the business ordinance for a variety of different types of establishments. All of these are aimed at just making sure that the health, safety and welfare of the community are upheld.”

Since drawing attention to the issues that have been occurring, Massey said, “We haven’t seen anything recent of that caliber of things going on, which I think is great.”

Massey discussed what has helped improve matters at the sports and games establishment.

“Just putting in CCTV cameras, (a) security system, and having somebody on-site,” he said. “That kind (of) thing seems to have calmed that down. I’m hoping it stays that way.”

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