Readers says ‘tonks don’t justify zoning

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 22, 2014

I am a huge supporter of Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, he is a gentleman and does a magnificent job of maintaining order in Warren County with limited resources. However, his call for zoning to control nuisance ‘tonks and dives is using a fire axe to kill roaches AND zoning cannot, usually, be used to close existing businesses. Mr. Bill Lauderdale appears entirely correct in his assessment of the applicability of Miss. Code Ann. 99-27-23 (2014) and the Chancery Court System to close “common nuisance[s]” if they sell liquor. However, this does not necessarily prevent recurrence. Perhaps a simpler approach is bar time management.
Internet research allows that liquor sales are permitted by the Department of Revenue, State of Mississippi for the City of Vicksburg, except resort areas, Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 2 a.m. and for Warren County, outside municipalities, Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 2 a.m. This is at variance with State norms of 10 a.m. to midnight and closed Sundays. Bars with beer only can operate 7 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Sales beyond these hours can result in forfeiture of license[s], closure, and fines. So, immediately under current conditions, any bar serving in Warren County after 1:30 a.m. can have their license[s] forfeited.
Local government can restrict beer sales hours by ordinance but cannot extend them and served beer hours mirror liquor hours. It does not appear that anyone has asked for fewer liquor hours than allocated by the state, but a judicious search for information suggests that any change from the county and city’s current hours, longer or shorter, must be approved and promulgated by the Department of Revenue. This approval seems only to require a petition by the municipal governing authority and/or the Board of Supervisors requesting a change. If both the city and county ‘tonks closed at the same time much of the problem might be solved. Good authority and fairy tales allow nothing but ill tidings happen after midnight, in any case.
If bar time management isn’t a solution and more county employees are required I would feel much safer with more trained and armed, multipurpose deputies filling the drunk tank than an office filled with pseudocrats equipped with clipboards, No. 2 lead pencils, crayons and four function calculators. Sheriff Pace deserves our support but wholesale punishment of the bulk of county citizenry with zoning should not be considered.
Restating: Immediately close county bars at 1:30 a.m.; enact a uniform, earlier, time for closure of county and municipal bars, then/and fund more deputies.
Jon Duke

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