Wednesday, July 6, 2022

More Changes Made to Proposed Bar Ordinance After Backlash

Mayor Robyn Tannehill explains the changes made to the most recent version of the bar ordinance during the Board of Aldermen meeting on Aug. 7, 2018.
Photo by Alyssa Schnugg

By Alyssa Schnugg
Staff writer

The ongoing saga of a proposed ordinance in Oxford that would add additional security requirements to all restaurants that serve alcohol may soon be coming to end.

On Tuesday, Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said she can’t remember any local ordinance – other than new zoning codes and a new comprehensive plan – that went through as many changes and updates after holding several public meetings.
“To me, it’s government at its best,” she said. “We appreciate people getting involved and sharing their views with us.”
The proposed Regulation and Safety of Patrons and Employees of Restaurants, Bars and Similar Businesses, Including Event Venues ordinance, once known as the Downtown District ordinance, was first proposed in June and requires all local restaurants serving alcohol to include additional security guards, cameras and the use of ID scanners to check for fake ID cards.
It listed additional regulations for The Lyric, since it is the only state-registered official event venue in the city of Oxford, that included a $75 fee to register each event held at the venue, unless a regularly repeating event, and provide OPD with information about the event such as the name of the performer and approximate crowd expected.
Tannehill announced more changes were made to the proposed ordinance that removed the requirement for The Lyric, and any future event venues, from providing the name of the performer or organization holding the event and submitting a new safety plan for each event.
The change was in response to several community members claiming that requiring the Lyric to provide the name of the entertainer could lead to racial discrimination.
Now the ordinance only requires The Lyric to register events for $75 when more than 150 people are expected to attend and provide only the specific type or types of event planned, the security company’s name and contact information, including whether security will be armed or unarmed and whether alcohol will be sold. The fee could be waived or reduced for regularly repeating events.
Still included in the ordinance is the requirement for bars to use some kind of ID scanner, whether electronic scanners or cell phone apps, submit a safety and evacuation plan to the Oxford Police Department, photo ID available of each of such business’s employees, and a description of each such employees’ position and contact information, provide adequate security guards and have working security cameras in all open, public areas, excluding bathrooms and behind the bar.
The ordinance will be on the aldermen’s agenda again on Aug. 21 for a possible vote.

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