NEW DETAILS: Miamisburg drinking area fight expected to go on if group fails to get on ballot



MIAMISBURG — A group wanting voters to decide on an outdoor alcohol drinking district downtown says it will seek another method if it fails to gather the needed support by this week’s deadline.

By Thursday the group needs to collect enough valid signatures on petitions to put the issue of a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area on the Nov. 2 ballot.

“We’re not where we want to be. But we think it’s still attainable,” said Miamisburg attorney Tom Croskey, an organizer in the referendum process started after city council’s vote the first week of May to create the 40-acre DORA.

The informal group needs to collect valid signatures from 15% of the registered voters in Miamisburg in the 2018 gubernatorial election, according to the city.

There were 14,420 Miamisburg registered voters then, Montgomery County Board of Elections records show. That translates into 2,163 signatures, Croskey said.

“If this fails, we’re still going to go to an initiative petition,” he said. “And we’re going to have to go through the whole process. And it is hard, hard work.”

Croskey said referendum petitions started being circulated May 12-13. That was more than a week following a traditionally united city council’s 5-2 vote on the DORA, which was proposed by the Miamisburg Merchants Association.

Between 80-90 petitions with 27 signature slots each are out with the group passing them at several churches, businesses and other community gathering spots, Croskey said. As of mid-last week, he did not have an estimate on how many signatures had been obtained.

Mayor Michelle Collins said she is “firmly hoping that (the DORA) is going to improve the foot traffic in Miamisburg.

“And if you increase visitors to our downtown, I think it’s going to increase retail in our downtown,” she added. “This is just one tool. It’s not the save all, be all.”

But Miamisburg’s downtown is “family-friendly” and doesn’t need a boost, petition supporters said.

“The downtown is thriving,” Croskey said. “This DORA – for Miamisburg – is a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist.”

Croskey said he’s concerned “we’re going to attract too many people that just want to party in Miamisburg – if they can find a place to park.”

Hours for the area would be 4 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 4 to 11 p.m. Fridays, noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays and 4 to 9 p.m. Sundays.

If the drinking area causes problems, Collins said, “it will be shutdown. It can go away with the stroke of a pen.”

The city has agreed to form a review panel to “take a look from every perspective,” reporting to council in the next few months “and council will act accordingly,” Collins said.

“Nobody wants to see the downtown fail,” she added. “Nobody wants to see any problems in downtown. If that would happen, (the DORA) would simply go away.”

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