City discusses 90-day trial period for Go Cup ordinance

From left: Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker, Mayor Lynn Spruill and Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver discuss the Go Cup Ordinance during the Starkville Board of Aldermen’s work session on Friday. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
By: 
Logan Kirkland
Staff Writer

The Starkville Board of Aldermen discussed the possible Go Cup ordinance in a work session designated for drafting a resolution.

The board agreed to move forward with a 90-day trial period to see how the ordinance will work in Starkville. The board will be able to extend the trial by a board order.

The ordinance would allow residents to purchase an alcoholic beverage or wine from an authorized business, then leave the business as long as it remains within the boundaries of the designated leisure and recreation district.

According to Mississippi House Bill 1223 which was passed in 2016, state law defines a “leisure and recreation district” as a area designated by the municipal governing body with an ordinance or resolution.

The boundaries for the leisure and recreation district will be from the corridor of City Hall on Main Street down University Drive to the pedestrian bridge leading to Mississippi State University’s campus.

The current hours of the ordinance will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The hours are subject to change if the board decides to amend after the trial period.

Other specific regulations for the ordinance includes a specific cup, no larger than 16 ounces. Also, residents can’t go into other establishments who sell alcohol with their Go Cup.

The board decided the cups will be clear and plastic, along with a sticker to designate the container is being used for the Go Cup ordinance.

As residents leave the designated area, there will be notification of the boundary and they will have to dispose of their cup.

ALDERMEN DISCUSSION

The board began their discussion with City Attorney Chris Latimer sharing how Tuscaloosa, Alabama has faired through their process of implementing the same type of ordinance.

Procedurally, Tuscaloosa did a temporary run, limited it to Friday and Saturday. Their city council believed it worked well, so they extended the time period it would be implemented.

Latimer said now, Tuscaloosa is Latimer said now, Tuscaloosa is considering implementing the ordinance permanently.

The council has not voted yet on the ordinance.

Mayor Lynn Spruill said she wanted to use this work session to address any concerns, and to focus on drafting the ordinance to be ready to call for a public hearing at their next board meeting.

“I wanted to make sure that what we did talk about were the things we were concerned about, which was days and hours,” Spruill said.

Spruill said the current hours coincide with city activities taking place in both the Cotton District and Downtown.

Ward 3 Alderman David Little asked if the time should go to 10 p.m. and Spruill said 6 p.m. is a bit early if there is late night shopping, which happens periodically.

Spruill said 10 p.m. looked to be the latest everyone was comfortable with, so they started the time off there.

Little asked if the benefit is going to be measurable from an economic standpoint and Spruill said the success of the ordinance could be measured in terms of activity and activities downtown.

Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker said if the city were to implement this ordinance, he likes the idea of a trial run.

He said then the board can see how things are working and if they want to extend the trial, they can.

“I think that’s a measured approach for seeing how it’s going to work here based off of how it’s worked in another municipality,” Walker said.

Little said he is interested in doing a trial period as well, but his concern is when there are more people in town. The trial run would begin in the summer if the ordinance were to pass.

“It’s really going to be tested on a ball game weekend,” Little said. “That’s the test.”

Spruill said having the testing period during the summer will help them see what areas need to be fixed or addressed. She said if the board likes how the ordinance works, they could look at extending it for a shorter period during an athletic event timeframe.

“Which will give us an opportunity to gear up and then see how it goes in September,” Spruill said.

Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver said one of his concerns was underaged residents taking the designated Go Cup and using it without any repercussions. He said he would feel more comfortable with a wristband or another way to designate if they are utilizing the Go Cup.

Carver also said he was pleased with how the hours have scaled back.

Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A’. Perkins, who was vocally opposed to changes in alcohol sales times and distances from churches, said he was using the work session to gather more information.

Perkins has already voiced his opinion of being against the ordinance.

“I am not in favor of these liberal ordinances that allow for liberal uses and consumption of alcohol, whiskey, beer and wine in our great city,” Perkins said.

One of the concerns many of the aldermen had was adding on more responsibilities to the Starkville Police Department.

SPD Police Chief Frank Nichols said he has talked with the police chief in Gulf Port, and they have not had any problems because of the ordinance.

“I don’t believe it’s going to affect us whatsoever,” Nichols said. “If we believe they are a minor, we are going to stop them.”

The board will look to call for a public hearing at their next board meeting. Then, there will be two public hearings before voting on approving the ordinance.

If the board approves, the Go Cup ordinance trial period will go into affect 30 days later.

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