A judge says Michigan regulators are allowed to drop a longstanding rule that generally required a half-mile distance between liquor retailers.

The Detroit News reports Michigan Court of Claims Judge Stephen Borrello on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a trade association representing stores. The association argued stores paid to buy their businesses and licenses with the expectation the rule would stay in place.

Borrello wrote there's "no property right to be free from increased competition."

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Supporters of the half-mile restriction say it protects communities and gives retailers some room against potential competitors. But the Michigan Liquor Control Commission decided last year that the half-mile rule discriminates against qualified applicants.

The commission says it's pleased with the judge's decision. Trade group Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers plans an appeal.

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