Planning commission cancels monthly meeting, Truth Lounge discussion

Published 4:07 pm Friday, January 19, 2024

NATCHEZ — Frankie Legaux, city planner, said the Thursday night meeting of the city’s planning commission was canceled at the request of attorneys representing the Truth Lounge who cited weather concerns.

She said the only item on the commission’s Thursday meeting agenda was to “review and reconsider the special exception permit granted to Truth Lounge, located at 719-1/2 Franklin St.”

The lounge came under fire in 2023 after a number of complaints about loud noise coming from it and loitering of its customers in private and nearby public parking lots.

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The issue came to a head on the wee hours of the morning Oct. 14, 2023, when a fight broke out inside the nightclub that took law officers more than 20 minutes to quell after they arrived. In addition, an unfriendly crowd outside the nightclub blocked traffic and threatened to overwhelm officers, said Natchez Police Chief Cal Green and Commander Jerry Ford.

At a special meeting later that day, the mayor and three members of the board of aldermen voted to shut down the nightclub until its owners, Rickey Banks and David Haywood, could come to a meeting of the mayor and aldermen and convince the board it should be reopened.

However, Truth Lounge owners and the then-city attorney Bryan Callaway came to an agreement, signed by Sixth District Circuit Court Judge Debra Blackwell, allowing the lounge to open. The agreement required the lounge to close at 1 p.m. and put forth several other minor stipulations.

Next, Banks and Haywood, through their attorneys from The Cochran Firm of Jackson, filed a lawsuit against the city’s board of aldermen, the mayor and Natchez Police Chief Cal Green. That lawsuit has since been dismissed. However, the two men filed an additional suit against Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson personally as well as 15 unnamed defendants. That lawsuit is still active.

Legaux said Friday afternoon that attorneys for the Truth Lounge contacted her at about 8:15 a.m. on Thursday morning, asking that the meeting be postponed because of the weather in the Jackson area.

“They said they are not trying to get out of it, but that roads were still icy where they were coming from. I can understand that. That area got more ice than we did and I wouldn’t have wanted to make that trip down here,” she said.

The attorneys wanted to postpone the meeting until next week. However, Legaux said that isn’t possible because the meeting change must be advertised at least 15 days in advance.

“Truth Lounge was the only thing on our agenda Thursday, or we would have gone on with the meeting and just canceled that item,” she said.

The issue will be part of the planning commission’s meeting on Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. at the council chambers, 115 S. Pearl St., across from City Hall.

A sign announcing the canceled meeting was posted on the door of the Council Chambers by 9:30 a.m. Thursday, as well as posted on the door of City Hall. However, no one made any phone calls to people who live in the area of Truth Lounge and have been interested or involved in the issue.