Come to ‘to-go’ zone cup hearing

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 25, 2017

During a legislative session this year, the State government authorized Natchez to establish a “to-go cup” district, formally known as a Leisure and Recreation District. What this means is that the City of Natchez, among other Mississippi communities, would be able to establish an area of the city where alcoholic open containers would be allowed to be carried by pedestrians.  This specified “district” has to be accompanied by rules and regulations in order to protect the citizens of Natchez, property owners and other occupants in the “to-go cup” district.  At the beginning of the process, the leaders of the city were sure to adopt criteria for this ordinance to ensure an unbiased creation of the boundaries of the district and the rules that regulate it.

The overall purpose of this ordinance is to enhance the downtown central business district of Natchez.  This ordinance hopes to accomplish this by encouraging a pedestrian friendly environment, adaptive re-use of historic buildings, avoiding dense residential areas and focusing on areas where bars, restaurants or entertainment establishment already exist. On the state level, this ordinance reduces the resources that the Mississippi Department of Revenue, Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) has to expend to enforce state laws, passing the proverbial torch to the municipal enforcement entity. The Natchez Police Department will be instituting a more visible presence of officers downtown to help with the regulation of this district.  Violators of the boundary or any other provision in the ordinance will be given a verbal warning first, as to not detract from our reputation as the embodiment of southern hospitality.

The regulations that have been adopted by the mayor and board of aldermen resemble the ordinances of several cities in Mississippi with “to-go cup” districts.  There will be several upcoming public meetings regarding the education of residents, property owners, and other members of the general public on the laws of this ordinance.  For downtown business owners, I will be presenting at the Chamber of Commerce on the morning of Aug. 30, 2017.  The main public hearing will be on at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 1st in the City Council Chambers at 115 S. Pearl St.  The purpose of this public hearing is to primarily educate members of the public of the laws and answer any questions that arise, but also to dismiss the misconceptions of this ordinance. If you have any questions regarding the information in this article, please contact the City of Natchez Planning Department at 601-445-7518.
Riccardo Giani is the Natchez City Planner.

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