STARKVILLE, Miss. — A Mississippi college town is loosening rules on the sale of alcohol, despite objections from an official who warned against allowing intoxicants too close to “God’s house.”

Starkville aldermen voted 4-3 Tuesday to let bars and restaurants sell alcohol closer to churches, schools and funeral homes. The current 250-foot minimum distance is being reduced to 100 feet.

Starkville will also allow the sale of beer with 8 percent alcohol content, up from the current 5 percent.

Restaurants and bars will be able to sell alcohol until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and midnight Sunday through Wednesday. The time now varies from 10 p.m. to midnight on different days of the week, or 1 a.m. if a Mississippi State University home football game is on a weekday.

The new rules, adopted over some opposition, are set to take effect in late October.

Alderman Roy Perkins tried to persuade his colleagues to reject the looser rules, the Commercial Dispatch reported.

“Here we are, wanting to bring this alcohol, whiskey, beer and wine within 100 feet of God’s house,” Perkins said. “That’s too close. When people get ready to enter the front door, the side door, the rear door, they can just smell all this whiskey aroma just flowing like a mighty stream, getting all up in your nose trying to go in God’s house.”

Mayor Lynn Spruill, who took office in July, supported the new rules as a way to boost business, the Starkville Daily News reported.

Spruill said “downtown is our heartbeat” and without the changes, “we are not going to have a heartbeat.”

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.