Council to discuss open drinking area

By Brandon Klein -

The city of Delaware’s downtown is eligible to have an area for patrons to walk around with open containers of alcoholic beverages.

City Council will discuss on Monday the process to apply to state regulators for a designated outdoor refreshment area, or DORA. Vice Mayor Kent Shafer said at the May 22 meeting there was some interest among downtown business owners.

“There seems to be a lot of support for that kind of thing,” he said.

The Ohio legislature passed a law in 2015 to allow cities or townships with populations of 35,000 or more people — as of the latest decennial census — to establish outdoor refreshment areas. The law expanded after April 30 to allow cities or townships with populations of fewer than 35,000 people to establish one district of up to 150 acres with at least four qualified permit holders.

Delaware’s population was 34,753 people as of the 2010 census.

“We are at the beginning of the discussion. Other than having conversations with nearby communities who have been pursuing something similar, or are contemplating taking action, no work has taken place,” city spokesman Lee Yoakum said. “As we understand the process, any action on a specific outdoor refreshment area territory (undetermined at this time) would require public notice, and a City Council vote to approve or disapprove an application. Paperwork also would need to be provided to the state Division of Liquor Control for recording.”

Middletown was the first Ohio city to take advantage of the law, while Worthington and Hilliard are among the first communities of their size to take advantage of the post-April 30 expansion.

If Council proceeds it would need to address seven items including the area’s hours of operation, boundaries, a requirement that beer and liquor must be served in plastic containers and signage.

In other business, Council will:

• Consider to approve $175,000 to fund the process to update the city’s comprehensive plan, which was adopted in 2004.

• Hear a presentation from David McCorkle, Worthington’s economic development manager, about its experience with Co-Hatch, a co-working business. The company provides co-working space to small business professionals and entrepreneurs and has an interest in establishing a location in Delaware.

Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 1 S. Sandusky St., or the city’s Citizens Academy graduation ceremony in council chambers.

By Brandon Klein

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.