Coshocton City Council exploring DORA

| June 2, 2021

May was a busy month for Coshocton City Council with the appointment of a new council president, Tom Hilgenberg, cameras getting set up at Himebaugh Park, senior banners being placed on the court square, council members getting to meet in person after approximately a year of video meetings, and the mayor introducing and proposing DORA to council members.

DORA, which stands for Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas, is a new way cities across Ohio are attempting to bring money in and make their cities more appealing to visitors and potential residents.

“I want to propose things that get people talking,” said Mayor Mark Mills when he proposed DORA to council members on May 10. Before the meeting adjourned Mills encouraged residents to get the facts about DORA before deciding to be against it.

If DORA is implemented in the City of Coshocton, it would allow individuals to purchase alcoholic beverages from an establishment, walk down the street with them within the area outlined and accepted as a designated outdoor refreshment area, and it would grant those individuals permission to enter businesses such as retail shops that choose to participate in DORA. Businesses who choose to participate in DORA essentially agree to allow the alcoholic beverage to enter their store and to be consumed in their establishment.

“It’s an area where people can buy a drink and walk freely with it. It is not a bring your own beer or take a 12 pack and drink it where you want kind of thing. You cannot bring your own alcohol into the DORA area,” said property code inspector, Jeff Corder. “In fact, none of the laws change for the DORA. You can’t be drunk and disorderly, if you are staggering and falling down it is still public intoxication. You can transport a drink openly but the law about having open containers in a vehicle does not change,” Corder said.

Mills remarked, “No matter how many laws we have people are going to violate them. If you want to have an open container you can do that now, but the city isn’t making money off of that so why not make it so we can?”

As Mills and Corder explained, if the DORA is adopted for the city of Coshocton, it will involve a specific cup to be utilized as a DORA cup. It will cost patrons extra to purchase the DORA cup, and that extra cost will then go to benefit the City of Coshocton. The cup will not be able to be carried from one liquor establishment to another. People will have to throw the cup away before entering a new liquor establishment, and they will have to buy a new DORA cup at each liquor establishment they enter.

Each business will get to decide if they want to participate in the DORA. Signage would then be placed in each business’s window letting people know if they can enter with their drink or if they have to dispose of it before entering.

“I believe this is going to benefit our community. I think it will stimulate restaurants and bars by selling drinks and retailers by having the uniqueness of having this program,” said Mills. Corder agreed, “It will also make it easier to have events because it would make it easier for restaurants. They would not have to change their liquor license to accommodate a special event, like the Casey Allen concert we had on Main Street.”

“From what we have seen from other cities participating in the DORA there have been zero issues with it, and it has not created more problems, it has brought revenue in and brought more people into the downtown areas,” Mills said.

“DORA is not new to Ohio, just new to Coshocton,” said Mills as he explained it is the Ohio Department of Commerce who is the agency responsible for enforcing DORA rules and regulations. A DORA committee in Coshocton has been created and was scheduled to hold its first meeting on June 1. Mills explained that it is his job to present ideas to council, and he did his part by proposing DORA for Coshocton. Now, it is up to the DORA committee to determine the parameters of the DORA such as the rules, hours, signage, requirements for law enforcement, sanitation, the cost of the cups, and the area(s) the DORA will include. Then, it will go to city council to approve or deny the ordinance.

While Mills assures that it is actually easier to get rid of the DORA than it is to get the DORA established, many residents have questions and concerns. And, while it is true that Designated Outdoor Drinking Areas are a way to create a unique identity for a community, many citizens are questioning if they want the DORA to be what makes our community stand out or what they really want Coshocton to be known for.

“If the DORA led to mayhem the Ohio Department of Commerce would not support it” Mills said. And, while the DORA committee is presently working on the details of the DORA, Mills says he wants the community to reach out and let their voices be heard.

“The bigger the voice, the bigger the movement” said Mills as he stated the government works for the people. “Council members are there to work for you, and they work based off of what you tell them. City Council makes the decision on this thing. City council does not operate off of Facebook, so it doesn’t do any good to voice your thoughts and opinions on there to try to tell council what you do or don’t want. Reach out to your council person. Tell them how they can work for you, tell them what you want regarding this proposal, or any proposal presented to council,” Mills said.

Mills went on to say, “I want the community to reach out to their city council representative. I definitely want people to reach out to their council person. Get involved. You own the government, not the other way around. You can complain or you can complain to the right person. You can have an idea and hold on to it, or you can have an idea and share it. Let’s come together and say, ‘this is what I want’ or ‘this is not what I want’. We all make this community what we want it so speak up.”

It is time the residents and business owners of Coshocton voiced what they want or do not want and voice it to the appropriate person so our voices can be heard. It is necessary for citizens to get involved with what is going on in the community. If a person is against the DORA and doesn’t tell the proper individual, then it is a vote for the DORA. Similarly, if an individual is for the DORA and doesn’t voice their approval to the suitable person, it is a vote against the DORA.

Business owners are encouraged to reach out to Our Town to share their thoughts and opinions on the DORA. Residents in Roscoe can reach out to Roscoe Village to voice themselves, and residents in the city of Coshocton are encouraged to contact their city council representative. Accordingly, those citizens residing in ward one can contact Mike Gross at [email protected]; second ward residents can contact Chad Johnson at [email protected]; those citizens in the third ward can contact Roger Moore at [email protected]; and fourth ward residents may contact Kayley Andrews at kayleyan[email protected].

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