Columbiana council gives OK to draft DORA bid

City could seek approval for open carry of beer, wine during events

COLUMBIANA — The idea of a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) in the city is still being discussed among council, with council giving City Manager Lance Willard and Municipal Attorney Mark Hutson approval to draft an application for them to consider at a future meeting.

Council has not approved enacting a DORA at this point, but is only considering an application, which would need to be submitted to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control for approval after a formal council vote.

A DORA is an area approved by the city that allows people to open carry beer and wine during special hours and events approved by the city.

The DORA has been suggested by local business owners Nicole Ice and Josh Dunn in a bid to draw more people to the downtown business district. Ice co-owns the newly opened Sundog Cellars, a winery, and Dunn is co-owner of the Birdfish Brewing Co., a microbrewery, both located along South Main Street.

The city became eligible to establish a DORA because of the wine manufacturing permit recently approved by the state for Sundog Cellars.

“I have knocked on doors, shook hands, kissed babies,” Ice joked, of her effort to get the word out and generate support for a DORA.

Ice also recently presented the idea to the Columbiana Area Chamber of Commerce, which gave its unanimous support. The chamber submitted a letter showing its support to the city, and the letter was provided to council during the meeting.

Ice and Dunn presented council with a map of the area where they are proposing the DORA be established. It covers approximately seven acres around the downtown business district area.

Under state law, a DORA can be up to 100 acres.

Ice pointed out the City of Canton’s DORA is 69 acres, and there hasn’t been a single safety or criminal incident related to that DORA.

“The whole idea is to enhance the vitality and add a new amenity to the downtown area. It is working beautifully in Canton,” she said.

She added that the DORA would only be during special events, which could be 10 times a year.

Liquor permit holders in the designated area would have to come to the city to ask permission to enact the DORA during a specific time, meaning that city council would have full control, she said.

Councilwoman Crystal Siembida-Boggs expressed some concern about whether all businesses in that area would want a DORA. She said that although the chamber has approved, the chamber doesn’t necessarily represent all businesses, since not all businesses are chamber members.

Siembida-Boggs asked Ice which of the businesses approved, but Ice did not want to divulge that information, saying she didn’t want any businesses to “get the rap” she has gotten for supporting it.

Councilman Skip Liston said that if a business does not want to participate in the DORA they have the right to not allow people to carry alcohol into their store.

Siembida-Boggs then asked how the city would make sure there is no passing of alcohol under the tables to those that are under age, and wondered who would be liable if that were to happen.

Councilman Dick McBane said that would be a complicated situation, adding that he likes the idea of a wristband which would designate who is able to legally consume alcohol.

Ice has also said in the past that any alcohol sold or consumed in the DORA would be in designated glasses that could be color coded.

Councilman Ted Souder said that it appears that the only ones who would benefit from a DORA are Ice and Dunn, to which they replied that they would obviously benefit, but they felt that other businesses would benefit as well, including non-permit holders.

Rob Schwartz, who sponsors the Columbiana Wine Festival, said that a DORA gives opportunity for other businesses.

“I can’t see how it can’t be a win for a business that wants to participate in this. If they don’t want to they don’t have to,” he said.

Jacob Sevek said that as a citizen he thinks the DORA is a great idea, but as manager of the Columbiana Street Fair, he would not want to have the DORA enacted during that event.

Two other residents weren’t in favor and said the city should focus on events, not allowing for open carry of alcohol.

Hutson said that if council approves the application, it would then be posted in the newspapers and a public hearing would be held before being submitted to the state for approval.

kwhite@mojonews.com

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