Referendum on Troy drinking district will be on November ballot

Referendum petitions challenging Troy City Council’s vote to create a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area have enough signatures to place a referendum on the November ballot.

The city of Troy was notified Friday afternoon by the Miami County Board of Elections of the number of valid signatures on the petitions circulated by a group of city residents, elections Director Laura Bruns said.

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The circulators needed 882 valid signatures of registered city voters to place the question of whether the drinking district ordinance approval by council should be upheld by voters.

Those opposing the drinking district filed 36 part-petitions containing 1,155 signatures. Of those 982 were found to be valid, while 173 were listed as invalid.

The referendum petitions were circulated by a group of residents following council’s 7-2 vote March 15 to establish the drinking district in a 20.24- acre area of the downtown. State law allows a drinking district where adults 21 years and older can possess or consume alcohol in public with certain restrictions.

One of the petition organizers, Dave Pinkerton, said those collecting signatures found those they talked with “overwhelmingly in favor of doing away with DORA, period.”

“People don’t understand why we have to have alcohol out in the public eye downtown,” Pinkerton said, adding many don’t oppose drinking in established places such as bars.

The hours of the drinking district – noon to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday - also were a concern, particularly the earlier hours, and a portion of it would lie in the path of students coming across the North Market Street bridge to the downtown from the junior and senior high schools, he said.

The city had hoped to implement the drinking district as early as mid-April but that cannot occur with the pending referendum petitions.

“We are obviously disappointed that the DORA is no longer an option for our downtown businesses, residents and visitors to our downtown in 2021, unless it passes in November,” Mayor Robin Oda said Friday afternoon.

“We’ve heard and seen nothing but positives in the other communities around the state that utilize the DORA concept, and we were looking forward to what it could do/would be for our downtown. My guess is that Troy residents have already been in DORA areas but were not even aware that it was in place. The voters will decide in November,” Oda said.

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