Council approves moratorium to temporarily block new bars from coming to E. Capitol St.

Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 1:39 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - For at least the next 12 months, no new bars will be permitted along the East Capitol Street corridor.

Tuesday, the Jackson City Council approved a one-year moratorium on new bars coming to Capitol between Mill Street and State Street.

The ban goes into effect immediately. Under the measure, the city will not consider granting permits for new bars or expansions of existing bars along Capitol within the Central Business District.

Ward 7 Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay authored the measure and worked with the city’s legal department and Department of Planning and Development to craft it.

She told WLBT last week that the moratorium was needed to give the city a chance to “press pause” on new bars, and determine how ordinances can be changed to better manage bars and nightclubs in the city.

It comes as the city struggles with rising crime along the E. Capitol corridor and as the city deals with a major shortage in the Jackson Police Department, as well as a lack of jail space to house offenders.

Lindsay asked the council to suspend the rules to allow the ordinance to be adopted at the July 5 meeting.

Typically, ordinances are introduced at one meeting and voted on at a later date.

She also asked the council to back the ordinance unanimously, so it could take effect immediately.

“That is the purpose of a moratorium. Otherwise, it’s not very effective,” she said.

Ordinances normally don’t go into effect until 30 days after their passage. However, the new rules can take effect immediately on a unanimous vote.

Councilman Kenneth Stokes said he appreciated what Lindsay was doing, but stepped out of the meeting, so the measure could pass unanimously.

According to a copy of the ordinance, the measure will prohibit the location, operation, permitting, or construction of new bars in the portion of the corridor bordered by Amite Street to the north, Pearl Street to the south, State Street to the east, and Mill Street to the west.

The measure would not apply to bars that have already been permitted or to restaurants that serve alcohol.

During the next 12 months, Jackson officials will “study the impacts of bars on the Capitol Street Corridor” and whether any changes to the city’s zoning rules are needed.

According to a copy of the ordinance, the Capitol Street corridor “has received significant media attention that is detrimental to the CBD’s development.”

It points to one incident where “residents reported over 100 rounds fired by semi-automatic weapons in or around a bar operating on Capitol Street during a time in which crowds were congregating in the area, putting patrons, residents, employees and other persons at serious risk of bodily injury or death.”

Several crimes have been reported on Capitol this year. In May, residents were awakened by what sounded like gunfire in the street. Witnesses told WLBT that people were running from the Daquiri Bar, while video footage showed the aftermath as people ran from the scene.

In April, The Daquiri Bar was again at the center of controversy, with downtown residents saying they had been threatened by bar patrons and that they had observed drug dealing and drag racing in front of the business.

Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks said he would like to see the city meet with “stakeholders” in the area to discuss how the bars, businesses, and residents can exist together.

For his part, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said he has had meetings with several department heads and bar owners “talking about the ordinances that are already in place, and their responsibility to them, and the issues of public safety.”

“Since that time, we haven’t had any more violent occurrences in the area, and it’s our intent to maintain ongoing communication with them and all nightclubs in that regard.”

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