Springboro council moves proposed drinking district expansion to next step

Only two people speak at public hearing about downtown plan

Several people attended a public hearing Thursday to obtain comments about the proposed expansion of the Springboro Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area into the city’s historic downtown district.

However, only two people, one for and one against the proposal, shared their comments with council during the public hearing.

Jack Blosser, executive director of the Springboro Area Chamber of Commerce, said DORA districts are a fast-growing economic development tool.

“This has been a bright spot for Springboro post-COVID,” he said. “Businesses still have COVID PTSD. Businesses also have to think outside the box and they need all the assistance they can get.”

Betty Bray, a South Main Street resident, said, “I’m in the middle of this, and I’m against it. I think it’s a bad idea, and I don’t think it’s right.”

Bray said it was dangerous to cross Ohio 73 from Wright Station to the Historic Downtown, adding that if she had a business downtown, she wouldn’t want intoxicated people coming inside.

Mayor John Agenbroad said, “Council can giveth and council can taketh. There have been no problems with the DORA district. If there is anything we can do for the downtown, we’ll do it.”

Council will give the proposed ordinance a second reading at its Sept. 1 meeting.

Assistant City Manager Greg Shackleford said there is interest in expanding the DORA district to both sides of Main Street south of Ohio 73 to just south of Mill Street/Lower Springboro Road.

Shackleford said the proposed expansion will allow other liquor permit holders on South Main Street to participate in the DORA program, which allows people to drink alcoholic beverages while walking around outside the establishments.

The beverages are sold in special cups obtained through the city and are not subject to open container laws. Local businesses in a DORA district can self-identify if they are part of the DORA program and whether customers with DORA cups can enter stores or not.

So far, Shackleford said there have been no problems as a result of creating the DORA district.

Springboro enacted its DORA ordinance in April 2020, but it did not go into effect until Warped Wing at Wright Station obtained its liquor permit from the state and opened in August 2020, Shackleford said. He said Warped Wing is responsible for 60% of the DORA sales.

In December 2015, downtown Middletown’s DORA district was the first authorized by the state of Ohio. Since then, Middletown officials said other Ohio cities have created their own DORA districts or have contacted Middletown officials for information and advice periodically.

Councilman Jack Hansen said police will patrol the DORA on a regular basis. He also noted the special cup that is required to be used and that no business is being forced to participate in the DORA.

Shackleford said to Bray he appreciated her comments and the city will not tolerate and disruptive behavior. “We are trying to connect Wright Station with the downtown,” he said.

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