By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Tupelo City Council on Tuesday will consider tighter controls on nightclubs aimed at reducing repeated disturbances from establishments with inadequate security.
Under the proposed ordinance, all nightclubs – broadly defined as any establishment that serves alcohol and/or beer and provides entertainment, such as music, games, performances and dancing – will have to go through a permitting process and obtain a state or city license to sell alcohol.
There’s wide latitude for restaurants, bars and other venues that offer entertainment to develop their own security plans based on the needs of their business, but the proposed ordinance does have specific security requirements for large crowds and for establishments with a pattern of disturbances, said Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton.
“If everyone maintains order, you’re not going to have a problem with us,” Carleton said.
Amendments to the alcohol ordinance, which also will be considered Tuesday, eliminate the option for nightclubs as “BYOB” establishments – where customers could bring in their own alcohol beverages. However, it allows restaurant owners who do not hold a state liquor or city beer licenses to permit customers to bring their own to consume with a sit-down meal.
Other amendments to the alcohol ordinance allow for revocation of city beer and light wine license for violations of city ordinance and clarify serving alcohol at events where private property is leased.
The nightclub ordinance, which was drafted using models from other cities, is in response to a problem with police having to respond repeatedly to disturbances at nightclubs as well as a deadly New Year’s Day shooting. Sometimes, the fights would be so large they would require all the officers on duty.
“It was becoming a habit, especially over the summer” Carleton said.
In many of the cases, Carleton feels many of the problems could have been averted if the clubs had proper security.
“The ordinance gives the officer on the scene the ability to shut down the entertainment,” Carleton said. “It’s just for safety.”
If the ordinance is approved Tuesday, it would go into affected in 30 days.
Carleton is already working with the Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Neal McCoy to set up information sessions for restaurant, bar and nightclub owners who will be affected by the ordinance.