Changes made to plan aimed at security, underage drinking

OXFORD, Miss. — A north Mississippi city is considering changes to a proposed ordinance meant to increase security and reduce underage drinking.

Oxford aldermen began reviewing an ordinance requiring more security downtown after someone fired a gun outside a concert at The Lyric concert hall in April.

“What we’re doing is trying to provide for public safety and quality of life and protect the surrounding downtown area that has brought so many people to our community,” Mayor Robyn Tannehill said.

But initial drafts of the ordinance prompted complaints that it unfairly targeted The Lyric, as well as downtown bars that cater to University of Mississippi students.

The Oxford Eagle reports that aldermen on Monday agreed to expand the ordinance to apply to restaurants, bars and venues throughout the city. That came after complaints from business owners and fears that heavy regulation near Oxford’s square could just push drinking elsewhere in the city.

Any business that lets people drink on-site would have to have security cameras and identification scanners.

The latest version no longer requires a specific number of security guards based on venue size, and instead leaves it up the businesses to “provide adequate protection.”

Event spaces such as The Lyric will have to file a “notice” rather than a “permit,” according to the proposed ordinance. Both citizens and business owners have previously expressed concerns that the ordinance could be used to shut down events whose content city officials don’t like, a claim aldermen and Police Chief Joey East have denied.

Tannehill said aldermen could vote on the ordinance July 17 if they feel comfortable. The ordinance would take effect 30 days after approval and be evaluated for effectiveness at the end of the year.