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July 13, 2013 6:52:36 PM
Lowndes County supervisors will review a draft of an ordinance that would force nightclubs to close at 1 a.m. if approved during their recess meeting Monday.
The proposed ordinance, drafted by county attorney Tim Hudson on the request of sheriff Mike Arledge, would mandate all customers to be out of nightclub buildings and property by 1:30 a.m. Arledge cited increased violence, noise complaints and a lack of manpower to enforce county law prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 1 a.m. made the ordinance a necessity.
The county currently has no law on the books requiring the clubs to close at a certain time. Arledge said there were a number of people leaving clubs in the city of Columbus, which requires the establishments to shut down at 1 a.m., and going to clubs in the county, whose owners could keep theirs open as long as they chose. Aggravating the situation was overcrowding, with some owners allowing double-capacity crowds at their bars, creating a potential fire and safety hazard. The lack of an ordinance also puts deputies at risk by being overwhelmingly outnumbered when called to a shooting scene, such as one last year that occurred at the Sin City Club in Crawford, a incident that resulted in five injuries.
The ordinance draft also forbids owners from allowing entertainment promoters to use, lease or rent property without verifying possession of an entertainment promoter permit and ensuring compliance with security staffing requirements. Owners are also responsible for ensuring no weapons are allowed and meeting requirements of staying at or below building capacity.
Language in the draft contains a finding of fact that some county establishments contribute to littering, public intoxication, and disorderly conduct and are located in older buildings not in compliance with current building code requirements.
Board president Harry Sanders said supervisors would likely fine-tune language in the draft before holding a public hearing on the revised version during their next meeting and taking a vote.
Open carry ban
Despite extension of an injunction that has prevented Mississippi's new open carry gun law, supervisors will likely approve a ban on open-carry in county buildings.
Supervisors first visited the issue during their July 2 meeting, authorizing Hudson to draft an ordinance prohibiting open carry weapons of any variety in county buildings and on county property.
Monday's meeting will be held at the Lowndes County Courthouse at 9 a.m.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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