Hattiesburg bar owner hopes the city "sees the light" - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Hattiesburg bar owner hopes the city "sees the light"

Monday night, Hattiesburg city leaders are meeting with nightclub, bar, and restaurant owners to hear their take on a proposed ordinance that would impose stricter guidelines on local night spots and venues.

One bar owner says he hopes the city will see the light after the hearing, which takes place at 5 p.m. at the Hattiesburg Train Depot downtown.

"Ninety-nine percent of the bars and restaurants in this town have no issues," said John Neal, owner of Keg and Barrel. "There is one consistent problem, and they are trying to kind paint a brush for all of us. It is too broad. I turns my small pub into a night club."

The ordinance would call for two onsite parking places for every five occupants and hire security personnel.

"Which would require me to have four security guards at all times," said Neal. "Financially, it would cost me about $110,000 a year, which is obviously too much for a small business."

Neal says the ordinance would affect restaurants as well, something Hattiesburg City Council President Kim Bradley hopes to clarify.

"If we are going to define a night club, if we are going to go that far, its got to be the square footage of the facility that is serving the alcohol, and then what that occupancy is," said Bradley. "A little corner tavern or somewhere downtown that has the capacity of 100 people, I just don't think we need to be worried with that."

Bradley says if the ordinance passes as it is now the council would be over-stepping their boundaries, and the administration should do away with the strict guidelines and create a due process for the problem businesses.

"Due process identifies those problems, gives them an opportunity to correct them, and if they can't correct them then that is when the council or the court or whatever would be allowed the opportunity to take that privilege away."

Copyright 2012 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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