MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) — The City of Muskegon Heights has adopted a new ordinance that will place an overnight curfew on some businesses.
Under the ordinance, anyone at an affected business between midnight and 5 a.m. could be fined $500 or face jail time.
In a post on their Facebook page, the Muskegon Height Police Department said they think some businesses affected by the ordinance will continue to stay open, but they say they will be taking a “strong stance” on trespassing, congregating and loitering.
The ordinance exempts hotels and businesses whose hours are controlled by the State of Michigan Liquor Control Commission, like bars.
The idea behind the new rule is to stop large gatherings that happen after the bars close. The Muskegon Heights chief of police says they can get loud and violent — a problem that has been going on for years.
The Chicken Coop restaurant, a strip club called Odyssey and a Shell gas station on Sherman Boulevard are the only three business affected by the ordinance.
Wayne Holden has owned the Chicken Coop for 31 years.
“I don’t think we’ve called 911 more than two times in the last two years,” he said.
He said after midnight on Friday and Saturday are the busiest hours for his business. He knows that crowds gather after the bars let out, but he said they are buying food.
“I don’t think selling food and gas causes violence,” Holden said.
“It ain’t like they was up there shooting,” resident Brittany Bell said. “There’s surveillance.”
She said rather than the businesses shutting down, the police should step up.
“I feel like they did that because they don’t want to do their jobs and get out here and stop the violence,” she said. “They want to make it easier on them.”
Residents are also upset about the previous closure of Rowan Park.
“Shutting down the park is not the right plan,” Jerry Smith said. “The right answer is solving crimes.”
Even a city councilman who voted for it says he was misled and wants the ordinance amended.
“Let’s exolve all the resources from the police department. They’re doing their job, but let’s step it up more before we ask businesses to shut down. We can’t afford to lose any more business in the Heights,” Councilman Eddie Jenkins said.
The owner of the Shell gas station said he plans to sue the gas station over the ordinance.