By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – City business owners apprehensive about a new nightclub ordinance set to be enforced found a powerful ally on their side Tuesday: Mayor-elect Jason Shelton.
During the first of two informational meetings in City Hall about the ordinance, which passed in March and is set for enforcement in October, about 40 property and restaurant owners voiced concern about language and provisions in the ordinance.
They worried about the ordinance’s definition of a nightclub since it includes establishments that service beer or liquor and has “amplified music.”
Tupelo City Attorney John Hill didn’t attend the meeting because of a scheduling conflict. Officials with the city’s development office, along with fire and police departments, explained the ordinance and answered questions.
Sitting in the crowd during the meeting, Shelton, who will take office next week, said language included in the ordinance seemed too fuzzy.
“In my opinion, there’s going to have to be some changes to the ordinance,” Shelton told the crowd. “I suggest you contact your councilman to make sure it’s put back on the agenda.”
For establishments qualified as nightclubs, owners would be responsible for using “hand wand metal detectors all persons entering the club,” providing security guards inside and outside of facilities and other requirements.
Violations of the ordinance could result in misdemeanor criminal penalties of $500 fines and up to 90 days in jail.
The nightclub ordinance and amendments to the alcohol ordinance were designed in response to repeated disturbances and assaults at nightclubs, including a fatal January 2011 shooting.
A second meeting to discuss the ordinance will be held at City Hall at 9 a.m. Friday.