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Farmington Hills Council Members Wrestle with 'Cage Fighting' Ordinance

While Mayor Barry Brickner said he doesn't believe the amateur martial arts tournaments belong in the city, other officials argue they may help keep local businesses going.

Farmington Hills Mayor Barry Brickner doesn't like cage fighting, and he doesn't believe it belongs in the city. 

Brickner made his feelings known during a Monday night city council work session discussion on a proposed ordinance that would regulate that sport and others within city limits. And while officials agreed they're not fans, the idea of a complete ban did not have broad support. 

"I can't see restricting somebody who wants to do this," council member Nancy Bates said. "It's a legal activity, and it helps a couple of businesses that we know about." 

Bates referred to Vladimir's on Grand River and Farmington Hills Manor, both mentioned during the discussion as being large enough to host martial arts events. Vladimir's hosted an event in 2011 and proposed one this year.

City attorney Steve Joppich said the existing city ordinance is "about a sentence long", and he questioned whether it would even apply to the recent proposals.

While state law addresses professional martial arts events, it includes nothing about amateur events, which fighters use to work their into professional ranks, Joppich said. The events proposed in the city have been amateur events, he added. 

The proposed ordinance lists 18 conditions with which promoters must comply and requires applications for an event license to be submitted 28 days in advance of the event. Promoters must provide their own emergency services and security personnel, and the city will require a "fee deposit" to cover any expenses it incurs related to the event, along with a bond to ensure clean up after outdoor events. 

The city clerk's office will process the licenses, similar to peddler licenses, Joppich said. 

Council member Richard Lerner asked whether the ordinance would affect businesses like Kils Taekwando, which occasionally hosts martial arts tournaments. Joppich pointed out that the ordinance applies to events that are attended by members of the public; Lerner noted Kils does host ticketed public events.

"That's a legitimate business, I want to make sure we're not doing anything to affect that," he said.

Council member Randy Bruce had concerns about allowing the events to continue until 2 a.m., which is also the time venues with liquor licenses would have to stop serving alcohol. 

"My concern is you've got a lot of young kids watching cage fights, which get them amped up, and they're drinking, which gets them more amped up," he said. Bruce added he was willing to give the proposed ordinance "a trial period".

The ordinance will come back to officials for review; Joppich said he would make a slight change in language to ensure that promoters can be required to pick up any signs they post to promote the event. 

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