Police chief given authority to waive open-container ordinance

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 13, 2002

[05/11/02]The chief of police will have the authority to waive the city’s open-container ordinance after a new law goes into effect in about 30 days.

The city adopted the amendment Friday. Under current laws, requests to waive the ordinance that bans consuming beer, wine or whiskey in a public place go before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

“It’s going to shift the responsibility to making exceptions from this political board to the chief of police, who will ultimately have the responsibility of the effects,” Mayor Laurence Leyens said.

The new ordinance is a rewording of the 12-year-old city law. The board members decided to take a look at it after what Leyens called a “healthy debate” Monday over how and when the board should allow drinking in public places.

Usually, the ordinance is waived for Riverfest or similar festivals that may take place on closed city streets.

South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman, who has voted against every request to waive the ordinance, and North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young had said that the board should not be breaking city laws by making exceptions.

The new ordinance modeled after a law in Charleston, S.C., will allow exceptions for group functions. Groups seeking to waive the ordinance will have to apply to the chief of police at least two weeks in advance.

If the request is denied, the applicant can appeal to the city board.

“I think there will be a lot fewer requests,” Beauman said. “When you’r3 dealing with the police chief you are not dealing with politicians.”

Police Chief Tommy Moffett said he believes the process will go a lot smoother and faster through the police department.

“The city council is extremely busy, and any time the activity will involve the police then we need to have input,” Moffett said.

In other matters the board:

Awarded a $92,470 contract to Riverside Construction of Vicksburg for sidewalk improvements along Washington Street between Ameristar and Confederate Avenue. That area is Phase I of improvements planned across most of the city.

Received two bids to pave the parking lot at Crawford and Washington streets and make other improvements. The board plans to award a contract later this month and work is expected to be completed this summer. The lowest bid for the work was $186,759.

Received bids for new playground equipment for parks along Farmer and Dewitt streets, Roseland Drive and Marian Lane.

Declared items surplus and authorized the sale of surplus property at the city auction. The auction will be at 9 a.m. today at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

Approved a $100 ad for the Sons of Confederate Veterans convention.

Allocated $2,500 to the Vicksburg Warren Community Development Fund.

Authorized advertising for non-firing cannons to be placed in the median along Interstate 20 and Phase I landscaped improvements along Washington Street.

The city board will meet again at 2 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall Annex.