|The booze vote is in; City looks at April sales
|By: Theron Fly
||February 06, 2013
|By now, residents of Tate County would be hard pressed to find a neighbor who isn't aware that Senatobia passed a vote last week, which would allow for the selling of alcoholic beverage within the city limits. What many don't know is the plan for what happens next.
The Democrat was able to catch up with Senatobia Mayor Alan Callicott last week after the election to outline the process that the city will take moving forward.
"The first thing that we need to do is set a public hearing, so that we can hear from the people in the city and gather their input," Callicott said. "I've been on the phone with the Mississippi State Tax Commission and the people from Alcoholic Beverage Control and am making sure that, when we hold our public hearing, they will have representatives in attendance to answer any questions."
Callicott said that he knew that people would have questions and he wanted to be sure to have the right people in attendance to be able to answer those questions.
The Senatobia Board of Aldermen meets tonight and it is possible that a date will be set for a public hearing at the meeting, although the public hearing itself will not take place at tonight's meeting.
Another question that comes to mind would be how the alcohol may be regulated.
Callicott is already beginning to assemble ordinances from other locations throughout the state that have passed similar votes and have implemented the sales well. He said that the city would likely be able to draw what it wants to do from these ordinances.
"The good thing here is that this has been done before. We aren't breaking any new ground here," Callicott said.
Callicott said that he has also had conversations with the Mississippi Malt Beverage Association about ways that it would recommend the sales be regulated.
One recommendation Callicott mentioned was that single beer purchases be prohibited in stores. A customer would have to purchase a six-pack. Callicott said that this would cut down the possibility of someone walking into a store, buying an alcoholic beverage on ice, walking out and opening it right away.
"We could do something like this within our ordinance. I think (something like this) would be responsible," Callicott said.
Callicott said that, based on his discussion with distributors, allowing for the selling of alcoholic beverages will have a significant sales impact for the community.
"While vendors may not be selling much more, they will be selling it from different locations. People will buy it at home now, the distributors say," Callicott said.
The distributors, Callicott said, have told him that they are predicting millions of dollars in annual sales.
The mayor said that he hoped that the planning and implementing process could be accomplished by some time in April.
Something many within the city and county are anxious to know is the effect that alcohol sales could have on the county from an economic development standpoint. Specifically, many wonder whether or not the sales would bring any new dining establishments to the city.
Callicott said that he has already begun to see the wheels in motion in regards to the possibility of new restaurants.
"I've spoken with a couple of developers and we have been having conversation about restaurants," Callicott said. "I've spoken with a site distributor who works with chains or restaurants (about the possibility of locating in the city)."
Callicott said that he wouldn't be able to share the names of those restaurant chains at this time, but didn't fail to pique our interest.
"I'll just say that you've heard of them," Callicott said.
Callicott said that he has also had discussions with local property owners who are telling him to let them know if he is aware of prospective restaurants looking to move into Senatobia.
The mayor also said that he is hoping that an influx of new restaurants would spur other growth within the city.
"People are ready to talk business," Callicott said. "It's happening."
©The Democrat 2013