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State nixes city's new liquor store ordinance

SOUTHAVEN — The state of Mississippi has barred plans by the city of Southaven to require liquor stores to be farther apart and farther from churches and schools.

The Mississippi Department of Revenue informed the city this week that the agency and state law controls  operation of liquor stores. State law keeps liquor stores 250 feet away from churches and schools.

“The Department of Revenue contacted our city attorney, and said the city is allowed to regulate beer and wine, but not liquor stores,” Southaven planning director Whitney Choat-Cook told The Commercial Appeal.

The city wanted to widen the buffer between schools, churches, parks and liquor stores. It would change the distance from those family-type atmospheres to liquor stores from 250 feet to 1,500 feet.

“They said you can pass the ordinance, but they (liquor stores) would not abide by it because the state regulates liquor stores,” said Choat-Cook.

Choat-Cook said the city plans to propose that new liquor stores cannot be located within a mile of other liquor stores. The city already bans beauty shops, barber shops, nail salons, tanning salons and spas within a half mile of each other.

“In the overall scheme of things, it will still push liquor stores further away from churches, schools and parks, but we have to do it with zoning rather than a radius around identified public amenities such as churches, parks and schools,” Choat-Cook said. “We will go this route because we don’t want to step on the toes of the state.”

The board of aldermen will discuss the proposal when it meets next week.

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