Alderman suggests beer ordinance changes

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, July 5, 2012

An alderman has proposed revisions to the city’s beer ordinance, the city board has scheduled a work session to discuss borrowing money to fund water and sewer improvements and the board has approved a bid to provide new playground equipment for City Park.

     During Tuesday night’s board meeting, a routine application for a beer permit sparked some discussion.

     “This board is going to have to update this ordinance,” said Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell, referring to the city’s ordinance restricting and regulating the sale of beer.

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     After the meeting, Maxwell proposed city leaders rethink the requirement that businesses obtain signatures of approval from surrounding property owners.

     The requirement may need to be dispensed with in businesses districts, Maxwell said. Also, the required distances between beer vendors and other institutions may be overly onerous, he suggested.

     Currently, selling beer is prohibited within 400 feet of any church, school or funeral home. The distance is reduced to 100 feet within any area zoned commercial or business.

     The brief discussion was prompted by an application to sell beer at BoBo’s and Little Tokyo restaurants, both located on Brookway Boulevard. The application paperwork is on file for Little Tokyo, but only 77 percent of the needed signatures were acquired. The new BoBo’s location is 97 feet from a church, whereas the ordinance requires it to be 100 feet.

     Other aldermen did not provide any feedback to Maxwell’s suggestion.

     The board did make one addition to the city’s beer ordinance Tuesday night.

     A new state law that went into effect this month raised the legal limit for the alcohol content of beer from 4 percent to 8 percent by volume. The city had to revise its ordinance to reflect the change.

     Maxwell took that opportunity to point out that as long as the ordinance was being tweaked, further changes might be order. He suggested city attorney Joe Fernald should have made those changes.

     Fernald told Maxwell aldermen need to initiate changes, and humorously suggested one way Maxwell could start.

     “I think you ought to stand up and move for liquor by the glass,” Fernald said laughing, referencing another new state law that allow some cities located in dry counties to hold referendums on the sale of liquor within city limits.

     In other business, WGK engineering’s Mike McKenzie appeared before the board Tuesday night and reminded the board of a work session held earlier this year in which he’d discussed a plan to make some significant and much-need additions to repairs to the city’s water and sewer system. However, the renovations would require borrowing money.

     If the city wants to borrow money this year, the board needs to make a decision by its next board meeting in order to make the necessary deadlines, McKenzie said. Aldermen scheduled a work session for Monday at 11 a.m. to discuss the matter.

     Aldermen also approved the lowest and best bid to provide new playground equipment to City Park. The three lowest bids had to be disqualified for failure to meet project specifications or failure to hold a Mississippi license.

     The project went to Jefcoat Construction, which bid $72,000.

     A grant from the Mississippi Development Authority will cover the project costs, but requires the city to provide volunteer labor.

     The board also accepted the retirement of Lanny Dickey as water superintendent and approved the promotion of assistant water superintendent Keith Lewis into the top spot. Along with the promotion, Lewis received a raise from $44,733 to $49,000 a year.

     Following an executive session to discuss personnel matters, board members also voted to give Solid Waste Supervisor Willie Smith a raise from $42,904 to $47,000.

     Though he’d previously suggested he might bring up redistricting, Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron failed to do so Tuesday night. After the meeting, Cameron said he’ll do so at a future point.

     “Tonight wasn’t the right time,” Cameron said. “We had other things to take care of.”

     Mayor Les Bumgarner has previously prodded aldermen to approve a plan by September.