December 5, 2011 7:51:00 AM
OKOLONA -- The city of Okolona has placed a 60-day moratorium on nightclubs while it mulls a permit request from a Nettleton businessman to open a topless bar.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Rodney Shumpert has applied for a privilege license to open the Chocolate City Bar & Grill. He plans to offer topless dancing, food and alcohol.
"I am looking to do $250,000 in renovations, and I'm looking to bring jobs and dollars to Okolona," Shumpert said. "We are going to do this nice and it will be upscale."
Okolona Mayor Louise Floyd Coleman said the moratorium gives the city time to look at its ordinances and determine what its options are. Coleman said she was not aware the business would be adult oriented.
"It is not our place to say what people or businesses can or can't do," Coleman said. "There have been issues with other nightclubs in our town.
"We want to look at what other towns and cities have as far as ordinances. We are going to do our research first and see how others regulate those types of businesses."
City Attorney Gene Barton said cities traditionally regulate bars, nightclubs and adult entertainment-oriented businesses with zoning ordinances that say where these businesses can operate.
"Okolona has an ordinance that says any nightclub must earn at least 50 percent of its revenue from selling food and no more than 50 percent selling alcohol. We have had a problem in the past with people just selling beer and not keeping up with their food revenue," Barton said.
Barton said the city also can regulate the hours nightclubs operate.
Shumpert said Chocolate City would employ at least 12 people.
"This will have a major economic impact on Okolona," Shumpert said. "I've also told people I am willing to give 5 percent of my revenue to the school district."
Shumpert said he chose Okolona because of the success of The Pony, another topless club on U.S. Highway 45 in Lowndes County, and because Tupelo does not allow alcohol to be served at topless bars. He said he plans to have 10 plasma TVs and a full kitchen.
"I also own three bars and restaurants in Tupelo and I keep them nice," Shumpert said.
He said he plans to start work on the building in February or when the moratorium is lifted.
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