- Associated Press - Friday, April 3, 2015

ABERDEEN, Miss. (AP) - The owner of a Lowndes County bar is challenging a two-year-old nightclub ordinance, arguing the early closing hours have cut into its profits.

In 2013, the board of supervisors approved an ordinance requiring nightclubs in areas outside a municipality to close at 1 a.m. and for nightclub premises to be vacated by 1:30 a.m.

MEC Inc., the owner of The Pony nightclub, sued in March in U.S. Northern District Court in Aberdeen. A status conference is scheduled for June 1.

The Pony’s attorney Jeff Hosford of Starkville told The Commercial Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1CVbKrP) that the ordinance is unconstitutional because it takes away The Pony’s ability to make money.

“The business was legally open and operating later than 1 a.m., while not serving alcohol. This period allowed my client to ensure that patrons were not drinking immediately prior to leaving as no alcohol was served. The new law endangers the community by forcing business owners to make customers leave the premises that may have been drinking and has taken away his lawful business proceeds,” Hosford said.

Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said the ordinance applies to all nightclubs in rural Lowndes County as a matter of public safety and did not specifically target The Pony.

Sanders said he doesn’t believe drinking at The Pony stopped then before the county’s ordinance took effect.

“People were buying a six-pack or case of beer and icing it down so they could keep on drinking,” Sanders said. “They weren’t selling it, but they were still allowing people to drink it … we passed this ordinance to keep down the riots, shootings, killings and drunk driving. If (The Pony) was making legitimate money past 1 a.m., they just need to find out how to do it during regular business hours,” Sanders said.

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Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, https://www.cdispatch.com

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