BY BRIAN JONES
COLUMBUS – The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors voted against allowing The Pony to stay open until 3 a.m.
At its Dec. 7 meeting, the board voted to refuse the strip club’s request for an exception that would allow it to stay open to serve food – but no alcohol – until 3 a.m.
Attorney Jeff Hosford and Jerry Westlund of the Pony appeared at the Nov. 13 supervisors meeting to ask for the exception. Under the current nightclub ordinance, which was passed in 2014, nightclubs must stop serving alcohol at 1 a.m. and have customers off the premises at 1:30 a.m. Westlund claimed that his business has lost revenue due to the ordinance, and that he has had to let go a number of employees as a result.
Hosford said that the Pony had complied with all state and local regulations, and met all the requirements set forth in the ordinance for an exception. He also said that, as written, the ordinance essentially requires the Pony to force drunk patrons into their cars and onto the highways whether they are fit to drive or not.
Hosford also argued that the ordinance as written is vague, and that portions relating to establishments that play amplified music could pertain just as easily to Waffle House or Walmart as they could to The Pony.
[For more details, see Packet #1167. – Ed.]
Last month the board postponed a decision until their Dec. 7 meeting. Hosford appeared again Monday morning, but Westlund did not.
District 1 Supervisor and Board President Harry Sanders told Hosford he didn’t think the Pony had a case.
“I’ve got one question,” Sanders said as Hosford took the podium. “Your whole argument before was that the Waffle House, Walmart, different places had jukeboxes on and all that and had music and entertainment and what-have-you after hours. The ordinance says that the only people who have to shut down at a specific time are the ones who serve alcohol. The Waffle House and Walmart and the places you used as examples don’t serve alcohol. They don’t pertain to this ordinance at all. I don’t know why you brought them into the conversation.”
“With all due respect,” Hosford said, “the ordinance is not the clearest ordinance in the world. I’m not trying to start a fight with you or the board about the language of your ordinance, but there are ways we could read many different things based on the way this is written. For example, this obviously only applies to the county because the city has different laws. So you run into that issue right off the top. In the county, you then look at businesses that sell alcohol. Walmart does sell alcohol.”
“But they don’t serve it,” Sanders said.