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Hill Country Living

Everyday Citizen’s Guide To The Beer Ordinance

By Coulter Fussell


As most know, the Board of Aldermen voted into immediate action a new beer ordinance for the city of Water Valley. The ordinance was 14 pages long and boring (although it does get a little steamy when it mentions a ‘house of prostitution’.) The first two times I tried to read it, I fell asleep by Article 3. But, I put on my thinking cap after a couple of tries and finally barreled through. Since then, I’ve barely been able to put it down!
I think y’all would really be interested to know what the Mayor and the Board decided for us. But maybe you’re like me and you don’t want to read 14 pages so you’ll just skip to the house of prostitution part, laugh to yourself, and then go do something more fun like washing dishes.
So here’s the cliff notes version:
Article 1: In this document we are talking about “beer and light wine” [a.k.a. beer and wine coolers.]
Article 2: You need a license from us to sell or give away beer and wine coolers. You can’t get either beer or wine coolers from anyone except a licensed wholesaler. If you do either, it’s a misdemeanor and we’ll take away your license.
Article 3: Get your license from the state. And file an application for a license from us. Include an affidavit. And  fill out our questionnaire. This questionnaire provides the information that the Chief of Police will use in his investigation of you.
Article 4: All applicants have to be personally approved by us. We will go by these rules ( but aren’t limited to these rules) in deciding who gets to fill out an application:
1). Gotta be 21 years old.
2). No felony or house of prostitution. [ha!]
3). Can’t have had your beer license revoked within the last 2 years.
4). Gotta be the owner or renter for the building where the beers are to be sold.
5). Can’t be married to or living with someone whose beer license has been revoked.
6). Can’t hire someone whose beer license has been revoked.
7). Gotta be caught up on all city taxes.
8 & 9). Main people involved in any LLC  or company need to be qualified as well.
10). For any reason, we can deny you if we think your place threatens Water Valley somehow.
11). Don’t lie on your application.
12). Again, Gotta have that state license.
The investigation of you will be done by the Chief of police, building code inspector, and fire inspector. They’ll do this within 2 weeks of you applying. The Chief of police is the main dude on this team.
Article 5: You have to pay a tax in the form of a privilege license from the City to sell beer. If you’re a convenience store, you pay $100. If you’re a restaurant, you pay $250.
Article 6: Convenience stores have to sell at least 75% food and have 75% of their floor space be about food. They have to report an itemized breakdown of food, non-food, beer/wine cooler sales to us every 3 months.
Article 7: Same goes for restaurants. And by restaurant, we mean a place with seats and a kitchen used for cooking “an assortment of food, commonly ordered at various hours of the day.” But more than sandwiches or salads. At least 50% of sales must be food sales. Can’t sell a beer to anyone that hasn’t ordered food. We can ask for a monthly sales report on this if we want.
Article 8: Convenience stores can’t sell singles less than 32 oz. [This ban has since been lifted as of last board meeting.]
Article 9: Gotta have separate men’s and women’s bathrooms.
Article 10: Can’t sell beer between 12 a.m. and 7 a. m., Monday – Saturday. None on Sunday.
Article 11: No loud noise. No gambling or “games of chance.” No pool.
Article 12: Can’t sell beer within 150 feet of a church, school, hospital, funeral home, nursery, nursing home, day care, kindergarten, public rec center, or any of these places’ parking lots. Unless your house is there. We allow you to drink beer in private inside your house. If your restaurant is near a church then the church can grant you a waiver.
Article 13: Don’t sell beer to anyone underage. Don’t buy beer if you’re underage. Don’t sell beer to “insane” people.
Article 14: Can’t employ anyone who has been convicted of state or federal laws that have to do with alcohol in any way.
Article 15: No open beer container in a vehicle, unless you’re in the back of a limo or your RV. Which we are right now. [Just kidding, I added that last line. I don’t know where they were when they wrote this. The time and place of this ordinance’s birth is a mystery. So I’ll just assume it was over a few beers in the back of an RV.]
Article 16: Don’t drink beer in City Hall, the library, the auditorium, school, stadium, playground, park, fire station, or sidewalk.
Article 17: The Mayor can order the Chief of Police to stop beer sales if there is a riot in Water Valley
Article 18: No signs saying you sell beer.
Article 19: If you violate any of these things you are guilty of a misdemeanor, charged up to $1000 and/or serve up to 90 days in jail.
Article 20: If you’re not in compliance we will hold a mini-trail at which point we’ll decide through testimony, evidence, facts and circumstances whether to suspend your license for a month to a year or revoke it for 2 years.
Article 21: The articles in this ordinance are not really connected contractually so if one of these things is illegal or unconstitutional then it’s just that one thing…the other articles still apply.
Article 22: The titles of each paragraph are meaningless.
Article 23: This new ordinance makes the old ordinance void.
Article 24: And we mean now.

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