XENIA — Visitors to downtown Xenia could be able to purchase alcoholic beverages to carry with them as they walk around town.
The city is exploring creating a DORA (downtown outdoor refreshment area) as a way to potentially invigorate and support local businesses and bring people to the downtown area. The idea was presented during a special council meeting last week and council members informally told the city to continue to look into it.
Xenia has already allowed alcohol at the Xenia Community Festival and other events taking place on public properties and has had no specific adverse incidents reported.
Under terms of a DORA, there would be designated hours and boundaries — required by the state. Additionally, alcohol must be purchased within the DORA and be served in plastic containers, also state mandates.
Proposed boundaries include the Ramada Inn, all of Xenia Towne Square — including both restaurants — and Devil Wind Brewery. According to Community Development Director Ryan Baker, staff tried to eliminate residential areas when forming the boundary. State law mandates a minimum of four drinking establishments/permit holders within the DORA and it must be comprised of contiguous properties.
The city could choose to have patrons purchase wristbands and use designated cups — which could be a fund-raiser for the Main Street organization, according to city documents. Businesses would be able to decide if they would allow or ban drinks in their establishments.
In his report to council, Merriman said all of the businesses inside the DORA the city spoke with were in favor of it and a few said they would apply for a liquor license if it’s approved.
There is no established time frame for the DORA to be established.
”It’s likely we may present something to council this fall with an unknown timeline for implementation if approved,” Merriman said. “We will also continue to garner community support, which so far has been very positive.”
If council approves, an application will also be sent to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control which must show that Xenia meets the minimum requirements to establish the DORA. Requirements include a public health and safety plan, a defined boundary of the DORA, hours of operation, and at least four qualified permit holders.
Council member Levi Dean indicated he had no issues with the request and Vice President Edgar Wallace said if it does not involve the park and would support local businesses, he would probably support it. Mayor Sarah Mays said she continues to struggle with the issue, according to city records.
Mays also said she was concerned about the existing struggle to keep up with downtown trash, and noted the DORA would create even more trash. Merriman agreed that they don’t want to make the problem worse.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.