Oregon District businesses seek city OK for outdoor drinking

The Oregon District Business Association this month plans to re-submit a petition to try to make East Fifth Street the first place in Dayton where people can legally drink on the street.

The association, in partnership with multiple alcohol-permit holders in the district, wants the city to designate a stretch of the popular business corridor as an outdoor refreshment area, allowing people to buy alcoholic drinks at some establishments they can take outside.

Natalie Skilliter, treasurer of the business association, said the new refreshment area designation could lead to increased foot traffic and interest in the district, and the hope is to have it up and running by early 2020.

“I think this will add more vitality to the street,” she said. “I think it will contribute to what we work on as a business organization, which is a sense of place.”

MORE: Street beers? Oregon District may try to be outdoor drinking ar

Oregon District bars and restaurants have plenty of patios where people can enjoy beers, wine and mixed drinks. But the association is asking the city to designate the section of East Fifth Street from Main Street to Bainbridge Street as a new outdoor refreshment area, according to its petition. The drinking area would include the Dayton Convention Center, the Crowne Plaza and the Neon movie theater to the west.

The area would go far enough east to include the Dublin Pub and Franco's Ristorante Italiano.

The proposed outdoor refreshment area would be about 20.5 acres, and its hours of operation would be from noon to midnight every day, said Skilliter, the owner of Corner Kitchen.

If the designation is approved, businesses would be permitted to sell alcohol in official cups that can be taken outside.

People would not be allowed to take drinks into other establishments that sell alcohol, but some retail businesses in the district might let customers bring alcohol inside while shopping, Skilliter said.

Most of the Oregon District business community views the proposal as a positive addition to help increase Fifth Street’s vibrancy, she said.

The district already hosts events that allow outdoor alcohol sales, such as Hauntfest and District Day, and the business association has taken steps to try to enliven Fifth Street, such as by hiring street performers.

MORE: Dayton creates outdoor drinking district policies

The Oregon District Business Association’s original petition was submitted in mid-July, but city staff provided feedback that required some revisions, mostly related to administrative details, Skilliter said.

The petition was not entirely complete under the requirements of state law because it needs to include a more detailed map of the impacted properties in the proposed area, said Tony Kroeger, Dayton’s planning division manager.

“We didn’t need anything that seemed unattainable,” he said.

The Oregon District Business Association plans to re-submit its petition by mid-October, which will be reviewed by a committee of police, public works, economic development and other city staff before being sent to the Dayton city manager.

The city manager decides whether to send applications to the city commission, which has to designate a refreshment area by city ordinance.

“When we have the complete petition, the various potentially impacted departments will provide recommendations to the city manager, who will in turn provide (it) to city commission for their consideration,” Kroeger said.

Dayton has had the authority to create open container districts since 2015, but the Oregon District Business Association’s petition is the first that has made any meaningful progress, officials said.

Ohio cities like Dayton with a population of more than 50,000 residents are only allowed to have two outdoor refreshment areas.

RELATED: Dayton on track to allow open-container areas

Under state law, designated outdoor refreshment areas need to have at least four qualified liquor permit holders, and the business association's petition was signed by the owners of Trolley StopToxic Brew Co.Blind Bob'sHole in the Wall and Lilly's Bistro.

MORE: 50 of the BEST patios in Dayton for outdoor drinks and dining

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