New mayor says new ordinace on nightclubs ‘too broad’
Published: June 28,2013
TUPELO — Questions about Tupelo’s new nightclub ordinance have prompted the city council to hold another public meeting on the regulations on Friday.
City officials, including Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton, have said enforcement will be “complaint driven.”
Mayor-elect Jason Shelton, who will take office Monday, tells the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal the ordinance appears too broad and he wants to take another look at it after taking office.
“I don’t like the idea of selective enforcement or complaint-driven enforcement,” Shelton. “The ordinance just has to be done right.”
The city council adopted the ordinance in March. The council put off the enforcement of the ordinance until October. The council has held one public hearing. Another is scheduled Friday.
The change came in response to repeated disturbances and assaults at nightclubs, including a fatal January 2011 shooting.
The ordinance, among other things, requires club owners to produce a floor plan showing where alcohol is served, apply for an annual permit, attend compliance training, hire security guards and check each patron to make sure no weapons enter the premises.
It defines “nightclub” as businesses with occupancy of 100 or more people that serve alcohol and have “amplified music, dancing, table games or video games.” Businesses with fewer than 100 people meeting this description will be regulated under the ordinance if the police are called more than once during a 30-day period.
“We understand the genesis of this ordinance and appreciate what our public safety officials are doing to protect our citizens and visitors while keeping Tupelo safe,” said Neal McCoy, executive director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“However, I have heard from numerous restaurant owners and managers that feel this ordinance is too far reaching and will adversely affect restaurant and entertainment venues that have not been a nuisance.”
Penalties for failing to comply with the law include $500 fines and/or up to 90 days in jail per violation.
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