‘Go-cup’ ordinance set to go into effect Friday

Published 12:27 am Thursday, October 19, 2017


NATCHEZ — After months of consideration and consternation, Natchez’s ‘go-cup’ ordinance will go into effect Friday, just in time for the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race.

So, what exactly should citizens know about the ordinance?

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Natchez City Planner Rico Giani said the ordinance was tailored to encourage economic activity and tourism.

When boiled down, go cups essentially allow patrons of licensed businesses to exit the establishment with an alcoholic beverage and carry that open container as they travel to another location within the go cup zone, officially known as a leisure and recreation district (LRD).

Businesses within the LRD have the right to participate or decline participation, but those who wish to be licensed must pay an annual fee of $100 to offset costs of infrastructure, signage and other costs.

Giani said the ordinance is meant to allow citizens to walk from one location to the next, not congregate in areas where they may disturb public right-of-way or bring their drink into a vehicle of any sort.

“Basically, this ordinance is for people to get a drink from the bar, they can take to the sidewalks … and then can travel to the next establishment,” Giani said.

He also said open containers are not transferable between establishments, and business owners maintain the right to prohibit patrons entering their establishment with a container from another business.

Only one container is allowed per patron.

Each cup itself is required to be plastic, no larger than 16 ounces and must contain some sort of distinguishing marker to identify from which business it came.

But what if a patron accidentally wanders out of an LRD with an open container?

The bounds of the district extend West of Canal Street between the Natchez Visitor Center and Madison Street, including Natchez Under-the-Hill and Magnolia Bluffs Casino. The zone also includes an area east of Canal Street and west of Martin Luther King Jr. Street between Jefferson and Main streets.

While Giani said the city has already posted signage that should alert downtown patrons when they are entering or exiting the go-cup zone, he said merely taking a container out of the zone will not necessarily warrant any sort of ticket.

“If a police officer sees you outside of the district, he or she is just going to ask you to throw it away,” Giani said. “They’re not going to give you a ticket … only if you’re being disorderly with law enforcement.”

As for business-owners, those licensed to participate in the district must post maps and regulations of the district at the entrances and exits of their establishments.

These businesses must also provide at least one trash receptacle at entrances and exits to prevent littering and allow patrons to dispose of cups before entering a new establishment.