- Associated Press - Friday, January 23, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The city of Vicksburg and a local restaurant owner have settled a lawsuit that challenged a new rule that forced four businesses to cut off alcohol sales at 2 a.m.

City Attorney Nancy Thomas told The Vicksburg Post (https://bit.ly/1t6p5Ld ) a compromise was reached Thursday. She said a Hinds County judge will be asked to dismiss the lawsuit. The state Department of Revenue was also a defendant.

“What we have agreed to is, Sunday through Wednesday, they’re going to close at 2 a.m. the following morning, and then Thursday, Friday and Saturday, it would be 3 a.m. the following morning.

“We put our heads together and came up with something that we could all live with,” she said. “Our goal is to have a peaceful and quiet area downtown so the people (living downtown) can sleep, and their goal is to make money, and we’re trying to find a medium for everything,” Thomas said.

She said the agreement has to be approved by the Department of Revenue, which has jurisdiction over alcohol sales.

David Belden, who owns KJ’s River Town Grille, filed the lawsuit Jan. 8. The three other businesses were not parties to Belden’s lawsuit.

Belden said he has not talked with his attorney.

“We never wanted to sue the city, but we were just trying to protect our business. The government and the city have far more resources than we do, so we did agree to come to a compromise, and I do appreciate the mayor and the aldermen trying to meet me somewhere in the middle,” Belden said.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said the agreement was a good move for the city, the business and its patrons.

“Rather than closing at 2 o’clock at times when they get their biggest volume (of business), they get an hour extra, and at the same time, we don’t have to litigate.

“The whole objective is to provide the best public safety we can for the city and the citizens of Vicksburg. Now that we have a resolution, I’m willing to work with the police chief and the police department and make sure that every aspect of Vicksburg is safe,” Flaggs said.

“Now we can refocus ourselves to crime. I’m very serious about zero tolerance of crime in Vicksburg, Mississippi.”

Belden filed his suit after the Department of Revenue on Dec. 19 restricted alcohol sales at four businesses in the city - KJ’s, Monsour’s at the Biscuit Company, LD’s Restaurant and the Beechwood Restaurant - cutting off alcohol sales at 2 a.m. at the city’s request. All four have resort status. The cutoff did not affect the city’s casinos.

Resort status is granted by the Department of Revenue and allows a business to sell alcohol 24 hours a day.

The department can, however, at the request of a municipality, restrict the hours businesses with resort status can sell alcohol. The move does not revoke the resort status, which is attached to the property the business occupies.


Information from: The Vicksburg Post, https://www.vicksburgpost.com

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