After a lengthy discussion at its Monday, June 8, work session, Worthington City Council has decided to move forward on a resolution that would set guidelines for outdoor dining and drinking in the city.

After a lengthy discussion at its Monday, June 8, work session, Worthington City Council has decided to move forward on a resolution that would set guidelines for outdoor dining and drinking in the city.

The move was spurred by a request for new outdoor dining at the Whitney House, 666 High St. in Old Worthington. City officials took the opportunity to ask council for a more-defined policy, specifically for the potential of patio or fenced-in drinking in the city's right-of-way.

"We have periodically had that request from other entities throughout the years," City Manager Matt Greeson told council.

But the discussion initially met with uncertainty from at least one council member.

Councilman David Norstrom said he was happy with how the city's Municipal Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board had dealt with the issue in the past, and felt that state regulations and city guidelines should be enough to go by.

"Why spend time on this?" he asked. "We have a process, we have state laws. Another policy seems like a waste of time."

Greeson and city staff, however, said it is necessary to have a set of rules in writing to guide future applications.

"In order to consider (a policy) fully in all of its impact, we did a draft, feeling that sometimes the best way to fully consider an issue is to write it out," he said.

The draft of the policy proposes any alcohol consumption -- even in the city's right-of-way -- would have to be in line with existing alcohol permits. There would need to be an immovable, "clearly delineated boundary" around outdoor drinking spaces.

City staff looked to nearby Delaware and Lakewood, near Cleveland, for examples of similar policies in comparable communities.

Applicants would pay a fee of $1,000 for the permit to the Worthington Community Improvement Corp., and renew at $500 per year.

Though he agreed with many of the guidelines, Norstrom still stood against the idea of written rules.

"I think my fellow council members will be surprised to hear me advocate for small government," he said, "but I think this creates a problem that doesn't exist. ... We're not Westerville. We don't have a long history of not serving alcohol. So I think the choice to sell alcohol in the right-of-way is best left to individual businesses."

Ultimately, the rest of council directed Greeson and his staff to continue drafting a policy to come in the form of a resolution at a later date. Councilman Bob Chosy summarized members' feelings.

"I feel more comfortable having this written," he said. "It makes it more difficult to skirt around, and it's not ominous. This is pretty practical stuff."

Council directed staff to return with some changes. The priority, it seemed, was having the planning commission and review board continue to handle the requests rather than coming to council.

But some council members were concerned about outdoor drinking late into the night.

Law Director Pam Fox said the drafted policy would not limit that time, and that current liquor licenses would be extended to their outdoor areas.

Staff members said they would look into putting some sort of time limit into the policy to limit disturbances for neighbors.