Desoto County News

Discussions continue on Southaven business disturbance ordinance

If police in Southaven need to be called multiple times to quell a loud or unruly gathering at a commercial location, such as a restaurant, the business could face fines. That’s according to an amendment to a city ordinance being considered by the Board of Aldermen in Southaven.

Board members on Monday night, March 19 continued a discussion on the ordinance that had been talked about earlier this month. According to the resolution being considered, incidents such as tailgate parties in a parking lot or loud disturbances that happen, especially on weekends, can stretch police resources.

Mayor Darren Musselwhite said it is hoped the ordinance can encourage property owners to “do their part” to help keep the peace and maintain a respectful area.

Musselwhite said he has personnally observed some of the disturbances the ordinance is trying to stop.

“I’ve seen tailgate parties, illegal drug use,” Musselwhite said. “I’ve seen urination in the parking lot. When you’re trying to build an upscale restaurant and somebody’s taking a whizz in the parking lot, I call this ordinance addressing common decency and manners.”

Property owners and those responsible can be held accountable and if it continues to take place, a $1,000 fine could be levied after at least three incidents where violators are found guilty during the course of one year.

City Attorney Nick Manley said the ordinance is more tailored toward restaurants but does cover all commercial establishments in the city.

“This is to help establishments be better partners for us because we can’t be everywhere all of the time,” added Police Chief Brent Vickers. “They need to take a little more responsibility on their property. If they see an issue, they call us. At that point, we show up and handle the problem; they (business) are not in violation of this ordinance.”

Aldermen did ask for some adjustments to the ordinance, however, and Manley said he could revise it to more clearly indicate the business would not be in violation if they are the ones that initiate the complaint call bringing officers to the scene.

Musselwhite said it’s a move to maintain the attractiveness and overall health of Southaven.

“We’re being extremely proactive with this,” the mayor said. “Most businesses here don’t have a problem. The things that we are talking about are alarming when you see these things happening. For most businesses in the city, this is not even an issue for them.”

With the changes to the ordinance now being considered, no board action was taken but it will be brought back at a future board meeting.