Alcohol hearing draws silence

Oxford StockBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – Oxford residents apparently take Sunday alcohol sales as a foregone conclusion.

Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting was the second reading and official public hearing for an ordinance change that would seek permission from the state to allow restaurants to sell liquor, wine, light wine and beer by the drink at restaurants every Sunday. At least five of the seven aldermen have expressed support for the issue.

For two years, the city has allowed Sunday restaurant sales on University of Mississippi football weekends and a few holidays, a compromise that some proponents had characterized as a test of whether the practice would change people’s behavior on the traditionally quiet day. With serving hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., police officials have said they have seen no appreciable problems on the Sundays when restaurants were allowed to serve.

When Mayor Pat Patterson asked for comments either in favor of or against the proposal, not a single audience member volunteered. In the recent past, restaurateurs, tourism promoters and economic development officials have touted Sunday sales as a way to boost hotel occupancy and restaurant revenues.

The silence did not indicate disinterest in the proposal: As the board moved to other issues, a significant portion of the audience, presumably there only for the Sunday alcohol hearing, left the board room.

Aldermen will vote on the issue at the Feb. 18 meeting.

errol.castens@journalinc.com