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Salem council green lights DORA

SALEM — City council agreed 7-0 Tuesday to go forward with the application to form a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area in downtown Salem.

But steps remain before anyone can drink a purchased cup of liquor outside while walking around in the set area covering most of downtown.

Those steps include advertising and holding a public hearing 30 to 60 days from now and making a copy of the final application available for public inspection, submitting the final application to the state and then the state issuing the necessary permits for participating liquor establishments.

“Hopefully we get this rolling so we can roll this out,” Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey said.

Dickey, who chairs the Rules and Ordinances Committee and the Committee of the Whole, has been spearheading the effort to get a DORA established in the city. The issue was discussed again Tuesday in Committee of the Whole, which includes all seven council members, who agreed to forward the legislation to city council for a vote, which council did.

“I’m not making any promises that this will be ready for this year,” she said.

If they’re lucky, she said they might have the DORA in place for a couple weeks this year to see what it’s going to be like. Then they’ll have all winter to decide if they want to reconsider before the next DORA season.

During previous committee meetings with Rules and Ordinances, the decision was made to limit the DORA to noon to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There had been talk about allowing for special events, but when asked about that, Dickey said they’re just starting out with this set schedule. The application also makes the week of the Salem Super Cruise off limits for the DORA, meaning no DORA during the Salem Super Cruise.

This year, there is no Salem Super Cruise since the event got canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with many other summer staples.

Councilman Andrew Null asked several questions during the Committee of the Whole meeting, which preceded the council meeting, including how COVID-19 affects the DORA. Dickey said DORAs were suspended and the state wasn’t doing anything with any pending applications, but now they’re back to reviewing applications. She commented that being outdoors in a DORA area may be safer for people, giving them more ability to social distance.

Other questions dealt with the cost the city will incur and whether there’s an out clause if council decides it’s not working out, which there is. Null expressed some concerns about costs incurred before it’s approved, saying “what if there’s a huge blow back from the public?”Dickey said there’s no fee for the application. There will be a fee for an engineer to draw the official map, which could cost up to $1,500 or less, another $2,000 to $3,000 for signage and then the cost of the cups. The same cups will be used at all the businesses, clearly marked for use in the DORA, and businesses will buy the cups from the city and sell them to participants, which means the city will recoup the cup money.

Councilman Sal Salvino asked about the section which talked about open containers in a vehicle. Law Director Brooke Zellers explained that people can’t be in a lane of travel or sitting in a car drinking with the keys in the ignition. He had also asked if each business would have their own color-coded containers.

Dickey said the idea of making all the cups the same is more cost efficient. She said the bars can put their initials on the bottom of the cups.

The application outlines a safety plan, sanitation plan, signage and outlines all the rules of the DORA.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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