Communities with a strong sense of place and livable downtowns drive commerce to quaint storefronts and locally owned restaurants and create a place where people want to be. As the desires of existing residents, future residents and tourists have been shifting over the years to live in communities that have a unique identity, community leaders and stakeholders should be looking for ways to build lively, walkable and livable downtowns that will attract small business owners and entrepreneurs. With employers recognizing and embracing the remote workforce, people increasingly have the freedom to live where they want to and not where they need to. The best talent flocks to communities where the sense of place is evident and desirable making the importance of vibrant downtown business districts unquestionably important.
Communities across the United States permit open containers of alcohol to be carried beyond the licensed premises generally connected to entertainment districts in the region.
- Hood River, Oregon along the Columbia River has no open container laws and allows drinking in public.
- Butte, Montana, prohibits open containers only between 2am and 8am but Montana state law does prohibit open containers in vehicles on a highway.
- Kansas City’s Power & Light District permits allows the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the street in open plastic containers through a special state law.
- Las Vegas and Clark County allow the possession and consumption on the street of alcoholic beverages except within parking lots or, if the alcohol was purchased in a closed container, on the premises of or within 1000 feet of the store from which it was purchased.
- Beale Street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee, is exempt from both Tennessee’s statewide open container ban and Memphis’s local open container ban.
- New Orleans, Louisiana allows the possession and consumption on the street of any alcoholic beverage in an open plastic container.
- Downtown Savannah, Georgia law allows possession and consumption on the street of one alcoholic beverage in an open plastic container of not more than 16 ounces in the city’s historic district.
- An 80-acre area of Downtown Dalton, Georgia permits possession and consumption on the street of one alcoholic beverage in an open paper or plastic cup of no more than 16 ounces between 12:30 p.m. and midnight.
One way communities can enhance commerce in a downtown business district is to establish a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, commonly referred to as a DORA. In April 2015 the Ohio Legislature passed Substitute House Bill 47 creating Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas, which authorizes municipal corporations and townships to establish designated areas where beer and intoxicating liquor containers purchased from a designated establishment can be consumed at different locations within the DORA.
Codified under Ohio Revised Code 4301.82, the act allows the executive officer of a Municipal Corporation or the fiscal officer of a Township to submit an application to the corresponding Legislative Authority to establish a DORA. There is not a standardized application that Ohio requires, however the state does map out the essential components of the application and process to create the area.
When the executive officer of the municipal corporation or fiscal officer township files an application with the legislative authority, the executive officer or fiscal officer shall ensure that the application contains all of the following:
- A map or survey of the proposed outdoor refreshment area in sufficient detail to identify the boundaries of the area, which shall not exceed either of the following, as applicable:
- Three hundred twenty (320) acers or one-half square mile if the municipal corporation or township has a population of more than thirty-five thousand (35,000) as specified in ORC Section 4301.82 (D);
- One hundred fifty (150) contiguous acres if the municipal corporation or township has a population of thirty-five thousand (35,000) or less, as specified in ORC Section 4301.82 (D).
- A general statement of the nature and types of establishments that will be located within the proposed outdoor refreshment area;
- A statement that the proposed outdoor refreshment area will encompass not fewer than four qualified permit holders;
- Evidence that the uses of land within the proposed outdoor refreshment area are in accord with the master zoning plan or map of the municipal corporation or township;
- Proposed requirements for the purpose of ensuring public health and safety within the proposed outdoor refreshment area.
Upon approval of the application by the legislative authority:
- The territory described in the application constitutes the outdoor refreshment area;
- The legislative authority is required to provide to the Division of Liquor Control and the Investigative Unit of the Department of Public Safety notice of the approval of the application and a description of the area specified in the application.
- The Division of Liquor Control, as soon as possible after receiving notice of DORA approval, will issue a DORA designation to each qualified permit holder located within the refreshment area that is in compliance with all applicable ORC Chapter 4301 and 4303 requirements.
Qualified permit holders for an outdoor refreshment area means the holder of an A-1, A-1-A, A-1c, A-2, A-2f, or D class permit issued under Chapter 4303 of the Ohio Revised Code. “D class permit” does not include a D-6 or D-8 permit.
F-Class Permit: If an outdoor refreshment area has been created in accordance with ORC 4301.82, the holder of the F-class permit that sponsors an event located in the outdoor refreshment area may apply to the Division of Liquor Control for issuance of an outdoor refreshment area designation. The division shall issue such a designation if the division determines that the permit holder is in compliance with all applicable requirements established under ORC 4301 and ORC 4303. An F-class permit holder that receives a designation under this division shall do both of the following:
- Comply with all laws, rules, and regulations that govern its type of permit, and the applicable public health and safety requirements established for the outdoor refreshment area.
- Not block ingress or egress to an outdoor refreshment area or any other liquor permit premises located within the area.
The creation of an outdoor refreshment area is limited as follows:
- A municipal corporation or township with a population of more than fifty thousand (50,000) shall not create more than two outdoor refreshment areas.
- A municipal corporation or township with a population of more than thirty-five thousand (35,000) but less than or equal to fifty thousand (50,000) shall not create more than one outdoor refreshment area.
- A municipal corporation or township with a population of thirty-five thousand (35,000) or less shall not create an outdoor refreshment area, except as provided in division (D)(3)(b) of ORC Section 4301.82.
- The maximum DORA size for qualifying cities and townships is 320 contiguous acres or ½ square mile. Cities and townships under 35,000 residents may create a DORA, but only if the area includes at least four establishments which are ‘qualified permit holders’, and the maximum size is 150 contiguous acres.
Many communities across Ohio are implementing DORAs to drive economic development priorities and enhance the vibrancy of downtown business districts. There’s never been a better time to establish a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area in your community.