Oxford, MS – The Board of Alderman met on Tuesday, April 2nd to discuss the upcoming and pending events of the town.
Mayor Tannehill opened the meeting with an update from her office. This included baseball games, Double Decker, Easter weekend or events that will be held in Oxford within the next few weekends.
Tannehill also commented on the recently finished state legislative session regarding infrastructure funding. She said that they were disappointed with the way that things ended “to say the least.”
Possibly the most controversial topic of the evening was regarding the rezoning of a private business owner’s property. The owner, Gary Lane, was present at the meeting to defend his property.
The city of Oxford has proposed to rezone local sewer contractor G&D Services on County Road 410 from commercial property to now being considered residential property.
“I am just trying to make a living. What is wrong with that?” said Lane while stating his case.
Mayor Tannehill explained that the business would be grandfathered in and should that this process would not change anything.
“As long as the Lanes own that business and property, they are grandfathered in and they can continue their business forever,” she said.
A neighbor of Lane spoke on his behalf speaking of their hard work and diligence.
Another neighbor was upset with the possibility of noise and trucks bringing not only noise but also problem to the neighborhood roads. The alderman said that it would most likely not create a problem but they could not promise that.
A larger and more controversial conversation Tuesday night was allowing business owner Allen Jackson to serve on-site samples of craft beer at his local store.
Oxford’s Jackson Beer Company on Jackson Avenue has been in Oxford for about 3 years. It currently serves around eight types of growlers at the store, and all of the flavors are under 10 percent alcohol.
A growler is simply a type of bottle you can fill up and take home rather than buying individual bottles. This is why the tasting or sampling would be important before buying.
This motion would amend Chapter 14, Article II of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Oxford – Alcoholic Beverages. The aldermen have discussed this prior but have been skeptical of allowing samples of alcoholic beverages in a store asking the question of what would happen if other bars or stores allowed this.
The Alderman discussed the size of the sample. Mayor Tannehill comparing it to a Nyquil cup.
Alderman Jason Bailey, Mark Huelse, and Janice Antonow shared their concern with the size of the samples Jackson would be providing customers and the precedent it would set for other local businesses.
Alderman Antonow especially fought this arguing what happens if you encourage this and put it on the square. While, Alderman Huelse showed concern, he also stated he understand the tourism aspect.
“I was just in North Carolina and these types of establishments were everywhere” said Huelse.
Oxford Police Department Chief Jeff McCutchen recommended that Jackson only allowed five one-ounce samples. That way nobody could sample all 10 options and get a “buzz.”
Jackson continued to promise that this wouldn’t be a problem in his store but the alderman continued to fight back with the view that his will not always be the only store.
The board agreed to that number. Mayor Tannehill offered reassurance and spoke on the bill they passed last September calling for stricter security, such as cameras and ID scanners, at businesses that sell alcohol.
There were many larger topics brought about and things celebrated. Things such as, Junior Auxiliary getting a whole week of appreciation for what they do for the LOU community, approval to begin construction on a new C-Store location on Highway 7, and adding ‘vaping’ to the smoking ordinance.
The next regular Board of Aldermen meeting is on Tuesday, April 14 at 5 p.m. in the City Hall Courtroom. These meetings are open to the public and welcome comments from locals on problems or concerns.