Tupelo rescinds nightclub ordinance

Tupelo StockBy Robbie Ward
Daily Journal

TUPELO – City leaders will head back to the drawing board after rescinding a nightclub ordinance passed just six months ago that intended to curb out-of-control gatherings but created unintended effects for city restaurants.

The City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to rescind the ordinance that gives Tupelo police power to close a business violating the law. However, council members expect city leaders to create an alternative ordinance to achieve intended results without alienating restaurants in the city that don’t cause problems.

“It’s my understanding we’re going to rewrite this ordinance and bring it back for future consideration,” Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington said.

The rescinded ordinance was created after an early New Year’s Day death in 2011 at a nightclub at 2207 McCullough Blvd. that has since closed. Darwin Penrose, 27, was charged in the shooting and is serving 35 years in prison.

Mayor Jason Shelton, an attorney who represented people accused of alcohol violations at the club during a separate time from the murder, said he felt like reaction by the city seemed like overkill.

“I don’t understand why we need more laws for that,” he said.

Shelton and area restaurant owners and management have encouraged repealing the ordinance, saying extra security and other requirements aren’t appropriate. However, Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton said that ordinance provided another law to help protect the public.

Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings said he appreciates concerns of local restaurants but wants to make sure police concerns with public safety are satisfied with the new ordinance.

“I want to make sure the city and the police make it work,” he said. “We want to make sure their hands aren’t tied in doing their jobs.”