Event center denied permit

Published 8:35 am Wednesday, May 11, 2022

An appeal to the Panola County Board of Supervisors by a man seeking to open an event center in the old skating rink building located on Curtis Road west of Batesville was denied Monday.

Patrick Coleman was turned down by the Land Use and Development Commission last month. He had asked to open Zero Event Center, saying he wanted to have a safe place for the public to rent for community events, including birthday parties and other celebrations.

The Land Commission denied the request based on safety concerns from residents in the area, and from Sheriff Shane Phelps.

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At the appeal hearing Monday during the regular supervisors meeting, Phelps again said that he would not support the opening of any business in the county that serves alcohol. Coleman said he had obtained a license to sell beer, but not liquor, prior to seeking a county permit.

Phelps said he is not against gathering places, or established businesses that currently serve alcohol, but his department is stretched too thin covering the county to have added potential for illegal activity.

“I’m not saying Mr. Coleman would have anything illegal going on at his establishment, but I said I was against re-opening Rolling Hills when it came up and I’m saying the same thing about this,” Phelps said.

Currently, just one business, The Pier restaurant located near the lower lake at Sardis, serves alcohol in the county and outside a city or town’s corporate limits.

Coleman told board members he wanted to operate a clean business with no community disruptions and would also provide security for any event. He also said that since he began working on the building he has stopped drag racing on Curtis Road, and that he is a certified bounty hunter who understands the need for law enforcement.

Supervisors were told that Sheriff’s Office deputies have twice been called to the location since Coleman was denied a permit by the Land Commissioner, and shut down his events in both instances.

Coleman countered that he thought operating the business without a permit was allowed during the appeals process.

One of those events, supervisors learned, was a party for North Panola High School students following the school prom. He told supervisors that he didn’t allow anyone underage in the building that night, and all students were in the parking lot.

Deputies were called to the scene when patrons became upset upon learning there was an admission charge of $10. Coleman said he was unaware an admission charge was being collected at the event.

Supervisors told Coleman he could take another approach to open a community center, and would likely find more success with obtaining a permit if he abandoned his quest to sell alcohol on the premises.

“It starts to look like a nightclub when you see all that’s going on and the fact he is wanting to serve beer,” Phelps said.