Aldermen consider expanding ‘Downtown District’ to entire city

Posted on Jul 3 2018 - 1:19pm by Kendall Patterson

The Oxford Board of Aldermen is now considering applying the security measures contained in the “Downtown District” ordinance to all restaurants in the city that sell alcohol.

During a third public hearing of the ordinance at the Oxford Conference Center Auditorium on Monday, the Board and Mayor Robyn Tannehill presented an updated ordinance. The new ordinance includes three proposed boundaries for the ordinance’s regulations.

The Aldermen presented options on applying the ordinance to the entire Square, the entire city or to the original borders contained in the ordinance’s first draft.

“If it’s about safety, it really needs to be applied to everyone,” Rafters owner Hudson Chadwick said.

Others argued that if the ordinance wasn’t applied city-wide, parties will be held outside the area of the ordinance and bars will just relocate as well.

“It’s shifting the problem if you don’t go city-wide,” said Alderman Rick Addy.

Chadwick and the owner of the Levy, Griffin Tanner, said they and other business owners would likely just open up new businesses off the Square for a competitive advantage if the ordinance wasn’t applied to the entire city.

Tannehill said she supported a city-wide ordinance because she believes that underage drinking is a problem for the entire city.

“I think that (underage drinking) is a problem all over town,” Tannehill said. “That’s why I’m good with applying this ordinance all over town.”

The Board was split with three aldermen for only applying the ordinance to the Square and three for having the ordinance apply to the entire city. The city decided to remove the first option and discuss further at the next meeting if the ordinance would apply to the Square or the entire city.

Tannehill also addressed concerns that the ordinance was a “hasty decision” to the shooting that occurred at The Lyric.

“This has been a discussion in our community for more than 15 years,” Tannehill said. “We have not entered the process without a lot of research.”

Rusty Hanna, Alcoholic Beverage Control chief of enforcement, presented an app called “Intellicheck” could be an option for bar owners to use as age-verification scanners.

Hanna also said the age-verification app would indeed have accuracy in detecting fake IDs.

“It works. It’s very effective,” Hanna said. “Without it, it’s impossible to detect a fake ID.”

Oxford Chief of Police Joey East said that the app is used by bars in multiple cities and for department stores for checking for fake credit cards. The app doesn’t verify by seeing if the back of the card matches the front, but to check the ID card format to see if the format is legitimate or fake.

Aldermen also discussed the time period businesses would be allotted to fix cameras or other security equipment that breaks. The original draft of the ordinance granted businesses five business days to fix equipment such as cameras.

Alderman Jason Bailey supported the bars in having 30 days to fix cameras because the bars often rely on a third party for repairs.

“I’d recommend 30 days on that,” Bailey said. “If it’s a repeat problem, than we’re dealing with something different. But I would give them some leeway… When you’re relying on somebody else, sometimes it’s out of your control.”

Another public hearing will be held Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Board of Aldermen meeting. The board will not vote nor make a decision after the meeting.