State law wording could mean a bar anywhere in the city
Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 22, 2014
Several community members addressed a concern about the current resort status during Picayune’s council meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Local church representatives and business owners spoke as to whether the current wording of the law leaves the city open to bars being opened anywhere within the city.
Rev. Allen Hickman, with Resurrection Life Ministries, began the topic by saying he is concerned with the current wording in the state law concerning Picayune’s resort status.
He said he feels the law leaves it open for anyone to open a bar or other establishment capable of selling liquor by the drink in any part of the city, regardless of zoning.
Hickman said his intention was not to have the law rescinded, but to ensure the city would prevent bars from being placed in residential areas.
“If this is left unattended our grandchildren will grow up in a different city,” Hickman said. “It will be like New Orleans.”
He said he felt that the sale of alcohol does not create economic wealth. Hickman also expressed concern that the new law could potentially mean alcohol could be sold at the Street Festival.
Dr. Keith Warden with First Baptist Church of Picayune said he is concerned that, under the current law, alcohol could be sold at places like Friendship Park. He felt that the county becoming wet would be a safer option than the current loopholes left by the conflicts between state and city laws.
Local attorney Buddy McDonald asked Police Chief Bryan Dawsey if the department has noticed an increase in the number of DUI arrests, to which Dawsey said, “no.”
McDonald also pointed out that about 70 percent of the electorate voted for the referendum and the vote had one of the highest turnouts.
As for the law not creating jobs, McDonald contested Hickman’s statement by pointing out that at least three new restaurants now operate in the city, all of which sell alcohol and liquor. Those businesses not only provide jobs, but tax revenue to the city, McDonald said.
Planning and Zoning Director Diane Miller said there are about 11 businesses in the city with liquor licenses.
After the public comments were heard, City Attorney Nathan Farmer addressed the concerns. He said there is a small issue with the state law; it needs wording that would back up the city’s zoning ordinances. For some reason that wording is missing, but Farmer said he is working with the state to rectify that situation.
McDonald said he feels the state has the capability to form a resolution that would honor the city’s zoning, fixing the problem.
“I think a business would be insane if they wanted to open a bar in a residential area,” McDonald said.
Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., said the city’s administration is also concerned about the possibility of selling beer or other alcoholic drinks at public parks, so they are working with Farmer to clarify the law.
After the matter was clarified Fr. Jonathan Filkins addressed the crowd.
“I encourage everyone here not to push the panic button,” Filkins said.
The next council meeting will be June 3, at 5 p.m.