‘Go-cup’ zone provisions discussed by local law enforcement

Published 12:09 am Tuesday, June 13, 2017


NATCHEZ — Law enforcement officials met with city leaders Monday to give input on the “go-cup” ordinance, set to go into effect on July 1.

The new state law allows certain Mississippi cities — including Natchez — to allow bar and restaurant patrons to leave the premises with alcoholic beverages.

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District Attorney Ronnie Harper, City Attorney Bob Latham, Ward 1 alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten and Natchez Police Capt. Tom McGehee met to discuss the boundaries of the zone, among other concerns.

The specific boundaries that will enclose a “leisure and recreation district” are a crucial component of the ordinance that the mayor and board of aldermen are still trying to work out.

Patten noted that the sheriff’s office sits adjacent to State Street, which the go-cup zone encompasses. Patten vehemently opposes this section of the proposed map because of the traffic that flows through his building.

“I have guys constantly shooting in and out of that building, and I don’t want someone to be walking around and get hit,” Patten said.

City Planner Riccardo Giani said the proposed map was formed from the consensus of those at the public forum held at the end of May, at which residents and business owners voiced opinions about the ordinance.

Officials discussed many aspects about establishing a “go-cup zone,” that make the process difficult.

First, officials said they did not want to put certain businesses at a competitive advantage by excluding them from the zone.

Officials had to balance those considerations, however, with public safety and avoiding residential areas. For example, a debate surfaced about whether Club Paradise, located on Franklin Street, should be included in its own “leisure and recreation district,” because its proximity to residential housing could lead to an increase in noise complaints.

Another main concern, expressed especially by Mayor Darryl Grennell but shared by all who were present, is regarding drinking and driving.

“My whole thing is, I don’t want somebody to get behind the wheel with this ‘go-cup’ stuff,” Grennell said.

Another concern is making sure people are aware when they are entering or leaving the “go-cup zone” by posting signs, a responsibility that will go to Natchez Public Works.

Latham said he was concerned about ensuring that tourists do not get punished for meandering out of a zone with alcohol in hand.

McGehee said the plan is to issue “verbal instruction” to those who exit the zone with a go-cup, notifying them to either dispose of the drink or get back within the zone’s boundaries.

The ordinance will be discussed again at today’s board of aldermen meeting.