Midtown goes ‘social’ with new ‘to-go cup’ ordinanceBy HASKEL BURNS,
In approximately a month, midtown Hattiesburg will follow suit with downtown’s recently-implemented “to-go cup” ordinance that allows patrons to carry alcoholic beverages outside establishments.
Hattiesburg City Council members voted Tuesday to create a Midtown Social District, which defines certain boundaries in which the measure would be allowed. The district will encompass a sizeable part of midtown, stretching north to Hardy Street, south to Arlington Loop, east to U.S. 49 and west to South 32nd Avenue. Council President Carter Carroll said the ordinance will benefit The District at Midtown, the mixed-used development off Hardy Street which includes several restaurants that serve alcohol, including Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, The Midtowner and Brass Hat.
“And as (The District) gets bigger, there will be events,” he said. “It’ll be like downtown, where you have an Art Walk, or some type of outdoor concert or performance from USM.
“So that was always going to be designated (as a “to-go cup” district). We just waited until it got formed a little bit better.”
The measure will take effect 30 days from May 7.
The bill that allows the ordinance – formally known as House Bill 1223 – was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant in May 2016 and allows entities to establish specially-designated “leisure and recreation districts” in certain areas. According to the bill, patrons “may remove an open glass, cup or other container of the alcoholic beverage and/or wine from the licensed premises and may possess and consume the alcoholic beverage of wine outside of the licensed premises” as long as that premise lies in the designated boundaries and the patron remains in those boundaries.
Per terms of the ordinance, patrons may only consume alcoholic beverages that were purchased from an on-premise retail alcohol beverage permittee located within the district, and a person cannot enter an establishment with an open container that was purchased elsewhere. In addition, establishments cannot allow patrons to leave their premises with more than one open container per person.
“The midtown to-go cup ordinance will give people the opportunity to travel around to different restaurants with their drinks, and to visit the many different restaurants that midtown has to offer,” Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George said. “Not only do I think this will benefit the existing businesses, but I also think this will help encourage others to continue development within midtown.”
The bill began July 1, 2016 in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, with downtown Hattiesburg taking part in September 2017. Downtown’s district stretches as far west as McLeod and Tennessee streets, as far north as 7th Street, as far east as Newman Street, and as far south as Laurel Avenue.
Other cities allowed to establish districts under the bill include Tupelo, Holly Springs, Greenville, Greenwood, Canton, Grenada, Starkville, Water Valley, Jackson, Senatobia and Corinth.