Tupelo targets nightclubs with possible ordinance

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Nightclubs like Rooster Cats could face a crackdown if Tupelo passes an ordinance limiting the wild, anything-goes atmosphere causing police and businesses grief.
Although a draft ordinance wasn’t publicly available on Tuesday, police Chief Tony Carleton said it would regulate security, capacity, hours of operation and alcohol sales. It’d also suspend a club’s operating license after a certain number of police calls or complaints to the establishment within a set period of time.
The ordinance likely would replace a brown-bag ordinance under City Council consideration since August. That ordinance would ban customers from bringing their own alcohol into establishments that permit it, but the council repeatedly has tabled it due to its potential impact on tamer businesses.
“It’s the big establishments we seem to have a problem with,” Carleton told the council at a work session at City Hall.
Those problems include a lack of oversight, fights, nudity and – in the case of a Sept. 29 incident at Rooster Cats on McCullough Boulevard – all three, according to a Tupelo Police Department incident report.
The report said women were stripping on stage but disappeared into the crowd before officers could detain them. The owner of the building then claimed he wasn’t responsible because he’d rented the space to a private party.
Three people were arrested then on charges of disorderly conduct, contempt of court and a warrant.
Nightclub revelers also seem to gather after hours at West Main Street shopping centers. According to police Maj. Anthony Hill during an August council meeting, nightclub revelers cause problems while gathering after hours in the West Main Street Walmart parking lot where fights erupt.
Ward 6 Councilman Mike Byran had offered the brown-bag ban as a solution since many nightclubs allow customers to bring in their alcohol.
Bryan this week said he still wants to pass the brown-bag ban, but council President Fred Pitts and others deemed the nightclub ordinance a better solution.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com