The Tupelo City Council unanimously approved nightclub and alcohol ordinances at its Tuesday meeting. The new provisions go into effect in 30 days.
Under the new 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. The ordinance has specific security requirements for large crowds and for establishments with a pattern of disturbances.
Establishments that maintain control will have latitude to tailor their own security plans, said Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton. Educational meetings for businesses impacted by the ordinance will be offered.
The nightclub ordinance and amendments to the alcohol ordinance were designed in response to repeated disturbances and assaults at nightclubs, including a fatal January 2011 shooting. Businesses across the city had disturbances spill over onto their properties, too.
“I feel like we have accomplished something,” said Ward 6 Councilman Mike Bryan, who has advocated for changes over the past year.
Council members Nettie Davis and Willie Jennings said they supported the ordinance, but want to make sure it is enforced evenly. Jennings asked that the ordinance be reviewed in a year.
The amendments to the alcohol ordinance eliminated 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.
Councilman Jim Newell voted for the ordinance, but said he had reservations about the impact on private parties and wedding receptions. Events in a leased space with more than 40 people will now require a $75 event permit.
“I’m a little concerned about the fees and bureaucratic process,” Newell said. “But it’s better than what we had.”