Drinking district rejected in Troy; Tipp City approves one

A Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area proposal was rejected soundly Monday by Troy City Council while neighboring Tipp City Council narrowly approved a DORA for its downtown.

A DORA allows a patron of an establishment serving alcohol to take a drink out of the building and walk within district boundaries. The drink must be in a specially marked “plastic container” showing it was purchased within the district.

Store owners would decide if they wanted to allow people with a drink to come into the business. If not, there would be a sign for them to post.

The proposals in both Tipp City and Troy sparked numerous letters, emails and public comment to the councils. Business organizations including the chambers of commerce and the Troy Main Street and Downtown Tipp City Partnership supported the proposals.

Troy council voted 8-1 to deny the DORA. Councilman Zack Allen cast the only “yes” vote.

In Tipp City, the 4-3 vote included Mayor Joe Gibson, Council President Katelyn Berbach and councilmen Logan Rogers and Frank Scenna in favor and councilmembers Mike Jackson, Mike McFarland and Kathryn Huffman voting against.

“Our businesses are in great need of a lifeline,” Rogers said.

Gibson suggested adding to the Tipp City DORA resolution a requirement to review the district in 90 days. He didn’t push the change after hearing from City Manager Tim Eggleston that the DORA would receive frequent reviews from the police, downtown leaders and others. “”If there is something going on down there, you are going to hear about it,” Eggleston said.

McFarland said he had a lot of citizens contact him opposing the DORA. “My only wish is that it pans out the way everybody says and thinks it is going to do,” he said after the Tipp City vote.

“Thank you for acting responsibly,” Troy resident Allen Easterday told the Troy council. “I think it is always wise to go cautiously and prudently.”

DORA proponents said the district would help restaurants that have suffered during COVID-19 and would help attract more people to the downtown. Opponents’ arguments included concerns about additional litter, disorderly conduct and an overall questioning of the need to encourage public drinking.

Tipp City DORA supporters said more than 30 communities in Ohio have established DORAs. Deputy Police Chief Greg Adkins said communities contacted by local police administrators “didn’t report an uptick in crime.”

In Troy, a three-member city council committee last week voted unanimously to recommend council deny the DORA, which would have covered 21 acres in the downtown. Questions about the proposal included the size and days/hours of the proposed district.

Andrea Keller of Troy Main Street said other communities reported that DORAs have helped attract people to the business district and increased traffic to online offerings that have increased during COVID-19.

"While Troy Main Street is excited about the potential of a DORA in downtown Troy, we understand why the city council made the decision they did. After hearing feedback from council members, it is our hope, that in the future, a revised DORA application can be considered," Keller said Tuesday.

“Is this what you want on the streets is people drinking?” Saundra Bastian told Troy City Council at an Aug. 10 meeting. “I just think this is wrong. "

Troy resident Lester Conard encouraged council to get the coronavirus under control before encouraging public gatherings and drinking.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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