Police, others rework nightclub ordinance

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Just more than a week after Tupelo restaurant owners derided a new city nightclub ordinance as government overreach, city officials have started revising the local law.
It doesn’t hurt the cause of the business owners to have the new mayor on their side.
“Some people have described it as like using a sledgehammer to kill an ant,” said Mayor Jason Shelton.
Before winning election as mayor, Shelton campaigned on relaxing tough city regulations. He has since said this ordinance needs amending.
The City Council passed the ordinance in March as a response to a nightclub shooting on McCullough Boulevard resulting in a death on New Year’s Day 2011. Complexities with the ordinance delayed enforcement. City officials had planned to begin enforcing it in October.
The new ordinance would require businesses with occupancy of 100 or more people that serve alcohol and have “amplified” music, dancing, table games or video games to provide security guards inside and outside the facility, subject patrons to metal detectors and other regulations.
Violators of the ordinance would face fines and potentially jail time.
Police Chief Tony Carleton said after a meeting in late June with restaurant owners that the ordinance would target areas that created problems for the public.
He said Monday that the police and other departments in the city will rework the ordinance to make it more acceptable to business owners.
“We weren’t intentionally writing the nightclub ordinance to make it hard on any restaurant,” Carleton said. “We just want to make sure citizens are safe.”
City Council members likely will vote on the ordinance revision in the coming months.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com