City considering alcohol at some events

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — The City of Xenia is pondering allowing the sale of alcohol at certain co-sponsored events.

City council March 9 listened to a policy-change pitch by City Manager Brent Merriman but tabled it in order to garner public opinion and to allow two absent councilmembers (Sarah Mays and Dale Louderback) the opportunity to opine.

Current city ordinances prohibit the sales and consumption of alcohol on all city property, which includes parks, rights of way and city facilities. After receiving requests from the organizers of the Xenia Community Festival and the Tour de Xenia bike race to allow alcohol at those events, city staff drafted a proposed policy that would allow the sales and consumption of alcohol — limited to beer and wine — at those two events.

“We are responding to two or three years of repeated requests,” Merriman said.

Sales and consumption would be limited to cordoned-off areas and security must be provided. Event organizers must obtain proper permits from the state’s department of liquor control.

“After doing a lot of research … the state is actually quite exhaustive in their requirements,” Merriman said.

He added that he hasn’t even confirmed that the Tour de Xenia will happen this year so it is likely only the community festival would offer alcohol if council approved. However the five councilmembers present at the March 9 meeting weren’t exactly welcoming the proposed change.

“For us to break precedent and start allowing it … this doesn’t sit well with me,” said Dr. Edgar Wallace, who added that he wants to discuss it with the Xenia Area Association of Churches and Ministries.

Jeanne Mills asked who would ultimately be responsible if “something happens,” and who would pay the police for its presence. Merriman said the policy states that the city must be listed as an “also insured” and the event organizers must carry at least $1 million in liability insurance. He added that organizers would also pay for police.

Wes Smith wanted to know if there would be a cutoff time for sales and if patrons would be limited to one beer at a time.

“This is the biggest issue I’ve had to vote on in the last couple years,” he said.

Merriman stressed that it is a pilot project, and if it doesn’t work out, the city could include a sunset clause in the policy to allow it to expire after one year.

“You don’t want to jump head-first into something we haven’t tried before,” he said.

Council has scheduled a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, prior to the regular meeting, to discuss it further and hear any public input.

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.