Tupelo, Olive Branch ease liquor restrictions

TUPELO — Tupelo officials have approved the sale of liquor on Sundays, while Olive Branch, another north Mississippi city, voted to extend hours for alcohol sales at restaurants and bars.

Tupelo City Council members voted 4-3 Tuesday in favor of allowing wine and liquor sales on Sundays.

The Mississippi State Tax Commission, which controls strong alcoholic beverages, has final say on the matter. It typically takes about two weeks for that agency to make a decision after getting the request.

If it’s approved, Tupelo will become the third northeast Mississippi city this year to allow Sunday liquor sales after Starkville and Columbus. All three cities also permit beer and wine cooler sales seven days a week.

The Tupelo measure passed quietly, but it wasn’t without controversy. Opponents of Sunday alcohol sales criticized the council for voting without first seeking public comment.

“I hadn’t even heard about it until Sunday night, and then two days later there’s a vote,” said Forrest Sheffield, pastor at Harrisburg Baptist Church. “People are upset the council has not given the citizens of the community an opportunity to have the spoken word.”

Council President Fred Pitts, however, disagreed the measure was sprung upon the public without notice. He said the group’s earlier decision to permit Sunday beer sales clearly signaled its intention to get liquor sales, too.

Olive Branch officials voted Tuesday to petition the State Tax Commission for longer hours to serve alcohol, from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week. Right now, alcohol sales are allowed 10 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to midnight Sundays.

Supporters of extended hours said they wanted Olive Branch to be in line with Southaven so businesses would not lose customers and money to its sister city.

The Associated Press