Johnstown Independent

Johnstown Village Council

Downtown alcohol policy review on tap next month

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After the idea was shot down two years ago, Johnstown Village Council is revisiting the idea of allowing alcoholic beverages on public property in downtown Johnstown.

The idea was brought up for discussion March 18, after Downtown Johnstown Inc. asked for permission to serve alcohol during community events in the downtown square and on other public property.

"Downtown Johnstown is looking for ways to attract more people to come to our core festivities like the car show and arts festival and other events that are going on," Village Manager Jim Lenner said. "They feel that providing adult beverages could attract more people downtown."

When the idea was introduced two years ago, Lenner said, it "didn't gain any speed."

However, village officials did not have the opportunity to do their research and did not have quality examples of how alcohol could be used successfully, he siad.

"I think last time, it was more of an open-ended discussion of, 'Hey, can we do this?' and we didn't have the examples or anything like this," Lenner said. "Since then, the organization has gone to Canal Winchester's Blues (and Ribfest), which is very successful on public property with alcohol, so they feel it can be done and it can be done correctly. I don't think that sentiment was there two years ago when this was first brought up."

Lenner said the village has examples of other communities and how they handle alcoholic beverages on public property. He said there would be added security and enforcement of the rules if the change were to be made.

"Obviously, it would be under a controlled environment with special-duty officers and IDs and all that," he said. "But (Downtown Johnstown Inc.) just wants the village council to look at it, not only for (its) organization, but for any organization that would meet specific criteria."

The plan is still in its early stages and the council has yet to make a formal or even informal decision. But, Lenner said, council members seemed more open to the idea than they had been previously.

"There wasn't any direct opposition or direct support -- they just want to look into it and see if it's feasible for the community," he said. "They instructed me to draft a policy -- or legislation if we needed -- to allow it.

"So I'll work with the law director and use examples that we have from three other central Ohio communities that allow it and come up with a draft for discussion."

The three communities are Dublin, Granville and New Albany.

Lenner said the potential change wouldn't be ready for the council's April 1 meeting, but he hopes to have a policy ready for discussion by April 15.

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