It came down to a tie, and Mayor Robert Smith broke it with a favorable vote.
The Columbus City Council voted 4-3 to approve an amendment to the alcohol ordinance that allows the sale of alcoholic beverages other than beer at certain events at Riverside Park.
Councilmen Gene Taylor, Kabir Karriem and Fred Stewart voted in favor of the ordinance amendment. Councilmen Joseph Mickens, Charlie Box and Bill Gavin voted against it. Smith, who serves as a tiebreaker on the council, voted in favor. Taylor made the motion and Stewart gave the second to bring it to a vote.
City Attorney Jeff Turnage outlined the ordinance, saying it would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages other than beer “one time per year” during a non-profit organization’s event as long as the organization can submit a certificate of insurance no less than $1 million per occurrence to the city.
The ordinance now reads, “The mayor and city council may allow the sale of beer, light wine and ‘alcoholic beverages as defined in Section 67-1-5 of the Mississippi Code, as may be amended from time to time, within specific locations within Riverside Park for specified and limited times in the event of non-profit events, but same shall not exceed per applicant more than one event in any 12-month period. ‘Riverside Park’ means that location near the trail head for the Columbus-Lowndes County Riverwalk, located beneath the bridge over the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway.”
Turnage specifically mentioned the Legends concert, which took place Oct. 8-9, as an event that the amendment could affect.
Box expressed his stance against the motion, saying that “before long, we won’t have any control over (the ordinance) at all.”
“We would change this for one festival a year and another festival a year,” Box said. “Before long, we won’t have any control over the ordinance at all.”
Gavin asked if the amendment restricted the sale of alcoholic beverages other than beer to just Riverside Park and only once a year, and Turnage said it’s possible to have more than one event where hard liquor is sold.
“You can have more than one non-profit hold a festival per year, but not the same non-profit,” Turnage said.
Even though the ordinance only says “sale,” Turnage also said the ordinance allows the possession of these alcoholic drinks during the specific events.
Karriem said via telephone interview that he thinks the city should not restrict organizations if it has an alcohol permit and proper documentation to sell alcoholic beverages during events.
“I was glad the ordinance came across because it helps and puts some type of guideline in place for those who possibly want to have alcohol at their functions at the Riverwalk,” Karriem said.
Attempts to get in touch with Smith regarding why he voted in favor of the motion were unsuccessful.