The location of the Sports Bar on Highway 51 in Sardis has a church up in arms.
During the meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen last Tuesday night, Rev. W. Otis McKinney of Pleasant Green Church asked the board why a bar was allowed to open so near to the church.
Mayor Richard Darby told McKinney when a search was done for the church, it was not listed on the tax roll as being a church.
"If this is a church, it would prohibit have alcohol sales within a certain number of feet," city attorney Tommy Shuler said.
McKinney showed city leaders a copy of the church’s bulletin and explained that services are held every Thursday and Sunday.
"If I remember correctly, we had this same problem when I was the police chief," Ward Three Alderman Mike Wilson said. "We did the measurements then, and it was legal."
Current Police Chief Sonny Stepp said he too has done measurements, but is unsure of the legal distance.
"It depends on whether you go from property line to property line or building to building as to whether it is legal," Stepp said.
"What we need is clarification of exactly what the state law says about the matter," Darby said.
"The fact is once we get the numbers from the state law, it is either going to comply or it won’t," Shuler added.
The mayor said at one time the city was having problems because the establishment was selling beer to go, but now it is serving liquor and beer on the premises.
"They do have an Alcoholic Beverage Commission license now," Darby said.
A spokesperson for the church members asked if the city had its own way of governing the matter or if it was bound by state law.
"The city has an ordinance that pertains to beer sales," Shuler explained. "As for the sale of liquor, we go by state law and always have."
"Is there an ordinance on the books that keeps clubs from opening in the city?" the lady asked.
"The city can govern businesses that only sell beer," Shuler answered. "If they have an ABC (Mississippi Alcohol Beverage Control) license, which the Sports Bar does, it falls under the state law.
"But to more directly answer your question, there is no ordinance on the books prohibiting clubs in the city," Shuler added.
The spokeswoman said she felt like the city needed to do something about it because club customers are causing damage to property.
"This area has a lot of elderly people," she said. "One lady has had people cause damage to her fence and yard."
Ward Four alderman Alvis L. "Rusty" Dye said he agrees that something needs to be done if residents are in danger.
"If this is putting the citizens of our community at risk, the issue needs to be resolved," he said.
Shuler was instructed by the board to determine the legal distance for alcohol sales near a church and report it to the police department.
"Once that information is given to the police, Chief Stepp will handle it accordingly," Wilson said.