Saturday, January 28, 2023

Board Approves Porn Ordinance, RFPs to Operate Conference Center

citymeeting
A recent Board meeting featured a more informal setting.

At last night’s Oxford Aldermen’s meeting an adult entertainment ordinance was passed and the Board agreed to seek RFPs for management of the Conference Center.
In brief remarks kicking off the meeting, Mayor Pat Patterson offered the city’s help for people with frozen pipes and other cold-weather-related issues, but suggested citizens’ first call should be to their local plumber or repairman.
“We’re here to help, but our first priority is keeping essential city services running and ensuring the safety of our citizens,” the mayor said. Mayor Patterson also mentioned the first day of classes at Oxford’s new high school at Oxford Commons. He said his staff was working closely with the school district leaders to address construction and traffic compications affecting school operation.
Once the meeting started in earnest, aldermen moved on to pressing business including final passage of the adult entertainment ordinance that essentially offers specific guidance on handling adult business requests. Although no such requests are pending, City Planner Tim Akers, who is retiring in the spring, explained that regulations in the ordinance include the prohibiition of alcohol service, promotional limitations and location restrictions. Akers explained  the ordinance is meant to protect Oxford from inappropriate exposure.
“Constitutionally, added city attorney Pope Malette, “This is considered protected expression and we can’t prohibit these kind of businesses from operating here.”
The ordinance established “Overlay Districts” that restrict the potential sites to an industrial area on West Jackson and an area off of College Hill Road in the Oxford airport area.
In another time-sensitive decision, the Board agreed to seek Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from operators interested in managing the Conference Center. Mayor Patterson and Alderman Jay Hughes stressed that the move in no way precludes the city from exercising any option when it comes to the facility’s fate, including maintaining the status quo. “No decision has been made and soliciting these discussions is consistent with our role as good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars,” Alderman Hughes said. “We don’t have to accept any of these proposals, but it’s important that we explore our options.”
Discussion on the issue included current manager Hollis Green and attorney Carter Hitt, representing hotel developer Chan Patel. Both men focused on the need to expedite a decision based on the importance of honoring current bookings and not unduely handicapping any new operating team because of lost Conference Center bookings.
Other Board business involved a recommendation by Alderwoman Robyn Tannehill to hire an executive search team to find a replacement for retiring city planner Tim Akers. The estimated $25,000 fee for hiring the firm was characterized by Alderman Hughes as “Money well spent if it results in finding the kind of talented professional necessary to ensure the city doesn’t  risk making unwise decisions that could ultimately cost taxpayers money.”
In another potentially controversial decision, the Board heard recommendations from the Parking Commission that 300 “Premier Parking Spaces” in the Square area will soon sport meters and convert to paid parking. A draft ordinance on the matter is expected for review at an upcoming Board meeting.
The Board also approved observance of Household Hazardous Waste Day on April 12.  Citizens will have the opportunity to safely dispose of items such as paint, other chemical-based products, and hardware items including electronics, washers dryers and related appliances.
Andy Knef is HottyToddy.com editor.  Andy can be reached at Andy.Knef@Hottytoddy.com
 

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