Troy referendum petitions want outdoor drinking district eliminated

TROY - Referendum petitions containing more than 1,000 signatures seeking to challenge Troy City Council’s vote to approve a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA, have been filed with the city.

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

The referendum petitions have 1,107 signatures. Petitioners need 882 valid signatures of registered city voters to have the referendum appear on the November ballot. The petitions will be on file for 10 days for public review with the Troy City Auditor’s office. They then will be sent to the Miami County Board of Elections for review of signatures and petition certification.

One of the petition organizers, Dave Pinkerton, said those collecting signatures door to door 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 DORA – noon to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday - also were a concern, particularly the earlier hours, and a portion of the DORA district 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 DORA as early as this week but that cannot occur with the pending referendum petitions.

Patrick Titterington, Troy’s service and safety director said Thursday the city spent several months surveying other DORA communities and businesses in coming up with a revised DORA proposal with a smaller scope, hours and days and clearer procedures after the council defeated the first DORA proposal soundly in August. The city has worked closely with the Troy Main Street downtown advocacy organization on the proposals.

“What we heard loudly and clearly from our downtown businesses and TMS was that 2021 is an absolutely critical year that could make or break them due to the Governor’s 2020 economic shutdown. Bringing visitors and residents downtown, increasing pedestrian traffic, is essential to helping our downtown businesses survive and thrive,” Titterington said. “I don’t know how much of that impact the petitioners took into account, but we’ll have to see if there are enough signatures to have the voters decide in November,” he said.

Andrea Keller, Troy Main Street executive director, said the DORA is important for downtown.

In what has been a very difficult year for our downtown businesses, it is imperative that we do all that we can to support our local businesses and their growth. We believe establishing a DORA will do just that,” Keller said.

Pinkerton thanked the around two dozen people who worked the referendum petition drive by going door to door for signatures. “We did Troy a big favor,” he said.

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