New nightclub ordinance draft adds teeth

county_oktibbeha_greenSTARKVILLE (AP) – Oktibbeha County intends to put tough rules on local nightclub operations.

The Commercial Dispatch reports the county plans to curbing overcrowding and requiring unobstructed emergency exits.

County officials began drafting the ordinance after a March shooting injured five people at Club Rock, an establishment located a few miles outside of Starkville.

An Oktibbeha County judge has issued a temporary injunction that keeps the bar closed until a hearing on a nuisance claim against owner Larry Fair. No date has been set for a hearing.

A draft ordinance sets operating hours of noon to 1 a.m. with patrons out the doors and off the premises 30 minutes after closing. It also has provisions against exceeding capacity limits set by the state fire marshal or county fire coordinator and mandates that all points of egress remain obstructed.

A regulations committee could suspend or revoke operating permits of establishments found guilty of two violations of any county, state or federal regulation within 12 months or three total violations over any given time.

Operating permits for such businesses approved by the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department would be required if supervisors approve the ordinance.

County Fire Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said the provisions are still a work in progress and fall well short of stricter rules set by national fire safety standards.

“They’re not outlandish in a sense. We’re basing them off of similar rules used within the city, as related to occupancy levels,” he said. “Even now, Oktibbeha County has not adopted any fire codes in conflict or additional to the rules set out by the state for public assembly. The rules are just that: rules.”