PORTSMOUTH — On Monday, Portsmouth City Council will give its first reading of an ordinance that would establish a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA). Still requiring two additional readings, DORA would allow permitted businesses to distribute and for citizens to consume alcoholic beverages within a defined zone.
First Ward Councilman Sean Dunne said DORA has been in discussions over the past year, first prompted by community members. Council did not think the city had the minimum 35,000 population requirement to institute one until learning that the requirement had been dropped.
Now with coronavirus restrictions limiting local business, Dunne said DORA could help the community.
“We want, as a city, to provide as much assistance to restaurants, cafes, and bars for outdoor eating and outdoor drinking and this helps us to do that,” said Dunne.
To participate, patrons would need to purchase a bracelet, permitting them access to buy and drink alcohol. Still, these customers will not be allowed to enter businesses within DORA unless otherwise marked by a sign. They are only allowed to drink alcohol inside the defined area.
According to the ordinance, drafted by City Manager Sam Sutherland, the borders are set as followed:
- The southern border the Riverfront from Alexandria Point east to the Grant Bridge.
- The easterly border would be the east side of Chillicothe Street from Second Street north to Sixth Street.
- The north border would be the east and west side of Chillicothe Street at 6th Street.
- The west border would be the west side of Chillicothe Street between 6th to and including properties located on the north side of 2nd Street then proceed westerly back to Alexandria Point
Retail, dining, and services set inside DORA include places like Patties and Pints, Haskins House Records, the Happy Pot and more. Four businesses already have liquor licenses, the minimum requirement, and Dunne believes this ordinance could incentivize more businesses to apply for one.
Still early in the planning stages, Dunne projects Portsmouth will use the area three days a week. While other towns like Middletown, the state’s first DORA, have a seven-day schedule, he said Portsmouth’s zone would need to be tested for its safety and economic success.
Dunne said this cautious approach is needed especially during the preliminary stages but is confident it will thrive after attending meetings with Heritage Ohio, an organization devoted to the preservation and development of local communities.
“I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback about it,” said Dunne. “I am enthusiastic to start and do believe it will be successful in Portsmouth.”
City Council will meet on Monday, July 27, at 6 p.m. in the Shawnee State University ballroom. The meeting will be live-streamed on the Portsmouth City Government Facebook page.