Athenians: you can drop that brown bag with a can from the carryout that isn’t fooling anybody — Athens City Council is looking to let its hair down a little.
Athens City Council introduced an ordinance Monday that would allow for outdoor consumption of alcoholic drinks on the street in a designated area.
Across Ohio, many cities are moving to adopt “Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas (DORA),” which allow those looking to crack some cold ones outdoors to do so.
Cincinnati, among dozens of others, recently voted to approve a DORA in the downtown area, which has been met with resounding attendance.
If the ordinance were passed, the city would apply for a five-year contract that applies to certain areas of the city, City Council President Chris Knisely said. If passed, the DORA would be open from May 17 to Aug. 15.
It would only run Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays within restricted times. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the DORA closes at 10 p.m.; on Sundays it ceases at 8 p.m.
Council Member Sam Crowl said the Athens Uptown Business Association worked on a committee to propose the initiative to the city.
He said the AUBA conducted research on other cities’ DORAs and modeled their proposal off of that.
“They really had to work with all the local businesses who might make this a success,” Crowl said.
Mayor Steve Patterson said the proposal would go to the Ohio Department of Commerce for approval if passed by the city. If the ODC approves the DORA, individual businesses with liquor permits can apply for a new permit that allows the business to participate in the program.
Patterson also noted that at any point within the five years of the experimental program, the city can amend the DORA and modify it if it is not working for the city.
DORA can also be rescinded near the end of the contract, Patterson said.
“There’s more complications than saying this is a pilot for a couple years because of the process that the establishments have to go through to get their liquor permits,” Patterson said.
Lisa Eliason, the city law director, said the state code says the city council can rescind the DORA at any time.
Crowl also initiated a discussion about what kind of cups could be used.
Crowl said the proposed ordinance requires the DORA cups, which are required for outdoor revelers, to be completely compostable. He also proposed some sort of stainless steel cup that could be used to attract tourists.
Eliason said the state regulations are very clear that cups must be disposable.
“It doesn’t even allow for a permanent container,” Eliason said. “It’s interesting things are spelled out so specifically.”
Jessica Thomas, owner of Brenen’s Cafe and current chair of the AUBA, said her organization is working with the state to see what the options are, but is seeking to find the most environmentally responsible option.