Aldermen hold second reading for amended alcohol ordinance, clarify misconceptions

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Oxford Board of Aldermen conducted a second reading of the proposed amendments to the city’s Alcohol Ordinance and shot down speculation that it would apply to the Double Decker Festival.

In the proposed amendments’ first draft, it allowed for there to be light beer or wine to be sold by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen-approved vendors within a fenced-in area, such as a closed-off portion of the street, sidewalk, alley or public way, during any city event. Open alcohol containers would also be allowed within those areas.

The fenced-in area will have a fixed structure and the entrances and exits will be maintained by security.

The second reading features a minor change with the addition of “alcoholic beverages” to the ordinance, a general term that widens the scope of what’s allowed to be sold and consumed.

According to Oxford Police Chief Jeff McCutchen, the city has had conversations on amending the Alcohol Ordinance for the past couple of years, but the process did not truly begin until after COVID hit.

“With COVID, you see the outdoor dining, that became a permanent process or procedure with a couple of locations downtown,” said McCutchen. “Having those conversations with [Alcohol Beverage Control] and learning what you can do and what the requirements are going to be, began to generate a conversation of what that would look like in the city. We’re dipping our toe into what the process looks like and if it’s feasible and safe for the city.”

With the 25th Annual Double Decker Festival right around the corner, many speculated if the ordinance would allow alcohol on the Square in time for festivities. Visit Oxford Executive Director Kinney Ferris clarified speculation that the Alcohol Ordinance amendments will not be in place for Oxford’s biggest event.

“It’s not something we’re going to be able to offer at Double Decker 2022 because certain readings and 90 days to become law,” said Ferris. “It’s not for that. We hope it’s something we can one day offer, but there’s a lot of logistics.”

The executive director stated the ordinance will be applied to smaller, city-sponsored events like last year’s Eat in the Street which took place in August. Any event that would allow open containers within an enclosed space would need to get permission under the amended Alcohol Ordinance.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill echoed Ferris’ statements in her own address on Tuesday afternoon to the courtroom audience and listeners.

“It is also not an effort to form a leisure-recreation district,” said Tannehill. “That is something the state has established which is basically an open container law to go anywhere in the district with a container and that’s not what this is.”

To view the proposed Ordinance amendment to Chapter 14, Article 2, Section 14-48 of the Alcohol Ordinance, click the document below:

ProposedAlcoholAmendment_040522

The final reading and vote on the proposed amendments to the city of Oxford’s Alcohol Ordinance will take place at the next regular Board of Aldermen meeting on Tuesday, Apr. 19 at 5 p.m. in the second-floor courtroom of City Hall.