Thursday, March 30, 2023

Oxford Aldermen Consider Change to Allow Outdoor Drinking at Special Events

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

The Oxford Board of Aldermen is considering a change to its open container law for the city of Oxford to allow people to drink wine or beer on a street or sidewalk during approved events.

Oxford Police Chief Jeff McCutchen presented the proposed change to the Board on Tuesday during its regular meeting for a first reading.

Currently, the Code of Ordinances states that it “shall be unlawful within the corporate limits for any person to consume or have in this possession any open container containing alcohol beverages … on any street, sidewalk, alley or public way.”

The proposed change would add an exception, stating that the code does not apply “at or during an event sponsored, in whole or in part, by the city of Oxford, if the city’s mayor and Board of Aldermen approve such possession and consumption in advance.”

McCutchen said any areas where the possession of sale of beer or wine will be allowed for a special event, for example, the Double Decker Arts Festival, will be subject to all state and local regulations.

“It would follow the ABC guidelines of having to have a fixed structure and having an ingress and egress to be able to maintain security set up for those areas,” McCutchen said.

If the change is approved by the Board, light wine and beer could only be sold or distributed at any such event by vendors approved by city officials.

Consumption of light wine and beer at any city-sponsored event may only take place in areas designated by the mayor and Board of Aldermen and all designated areas will be fenced or otherwise closed off from other portions of the street, sidewalk, alley or public way.

The Board heard the first reading of the proposed change Tuesday. A public hearing and second reading will take place at 5 p.m. on April 5 at City Hall. The Board will likely vote after a third reading on April 19; however, they could elect to vote after the public hearing and second reading.