Hilliard's first use of a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area is expected June 8 at the first of nine "Celebration at the Station" summer concerts at Hilliard's Station Park in Old Hilliard.

Hilliard's first use of a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area is expected June 8 at the first of nine "Celebration at the Station" summer concerts at Hilliard's Station Park in Old Hilliard.

The DORA permits the possession and consumption of alcohol in public areas within certain boundaries during specific times and dates; alcohol must purchased at one of the four establishments within the DORA and cannot be brought in from outside.

Cities in Ohio with a population greater than 35,000 were permitted to establish a DORA when the authorizing legislation became effective April 30, 2015, according to Tracy Bradford, Hilliard's law director.

Cities with a population of fewer than 35,000 -- Hilliard's is roughly 31,000 -- could not establish such a district until April 30, when it is added to the Ohio Revised Code, she said.

Hilliard City Council on April 24 voted 5-1 to authorize the local DORA, effective April 30.

City Council President Nathan Painter opposed it and Councilman Joe Erb was absent.

Painter said after the meeting he did not think alcohol "needed to be on the streets" and would have preferred, especially in its trial run, that the DORA be contained to Hilliard's Station Park.

"We've never done anything like this before. ... I think we should have started on a smaller scale," he said.

The proposal for a DORA was based on feedback the city has received about establishing an entertainment district in Old Hilliard, particularly at Hilliard's Station Park, which is open for its second full season this year, said Steve Mazer, Hilliard's recreation and parks director.

Erb said April 25 he "unequivocally supports" the DORA and worked with then state Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) on legislation that ensured that cities like Hilliard would have the opportunity to establish a DORA.

Libby Gierach, president and CEO of the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce, said the DORA is a benefit to the community, especially the Old Hilliard district.

"Having the option for people to purchase a beverage at our local restaurants in Old Hilliard (during concerts is) an economic benefit," Gierach said.

DORA is in the details

Ohio law requires that a DORA include at least four holders of liquor permits, Bradford said.

Earlier this year, in making his request that City Council establish a DORA, Mayor Don Schonhardt identified those four establishments as Abner's Casual Dining, 4051 Main St.; Otie's Tavern and Grill, 5344 Center St.; Sports on Tap, 4030 Main St., and Old Bag of Nails Pub, 4065 Main St.

Owners or operators from all four businesses attended one of two meetings with city officials during the past month to discuss the DORA, Mazer said.

All support the DORA, he said.

"We're all anxious to move forward," Mazer said.

Gordon Milligan, owner of Abner's, was the only owner who addressed council members April 24, asking that dates be added to the DORA.

Milligan asked for the second Saturday of each month from May to September to be included in conjunction with live music on the outdoor patio at Abner's.

City Council members opted to add most of the dates -- June 10, July 8, Aug. 12 and Sept. 9 -- but excluded May 13 upon the recommendation of Bradford and police Chief Bobby Fisher.

Bradford said the city chose June 8 as the original date to launch the DORA to provide adequate time for filing required notices with the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control.

Fisher said he could not pledge the manpower to staff a DORA event May 13 because as many as 15 Hilliard officers will be in Washington, D.C., to honor officer Sean Johnson at a memorial for police officers from across the United States killed in the line of duty. Johnson, a 16-year veteran of the Hilliard Division of Police, died May 19, 2016, after he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed during a training exercise with three other Hilliard police officers at Interstate 270 and state Route 161.

Enforcement plans

Concerning enforcement, Fisher said, he anticipates three officers at each DORA event. One would remain at Hilliard's Station Park and the other pair would patrol the perimeter of the DORA, he said.

"But it's really attendance dependent," he said. We will need to gauge the turnouts as it goes along (to assess the level of staffing)."

The use of color-coded plastic cups for each event will assist police with enforcement, because only alcohol purchased at one of the four establishments within the DORA is legal to possess, Bradford said. Each purchaser of an alcoholic beverage will be provided a colored wristband, as well, so that participants in the DORA can be identified easily, she said.

Those who do not comply with the conditions of the DORA, such as straying outside its borders or possessing alcohol not purchased at one of the four establishments, are subject to open-container laws that otherwise would apply, Bradford said.

Dates for 2017

Thirteen DORA event dates have been approved.

The nine dates for the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department's "Celebration at the Station" summer concerts are June 8, 15, 22 and 29; July 13, 20 and 27; and Aug. 3 and 10.

The concerts are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. each Thursday evening, but the DORA is permitted to be in use from 6 to 10 p.m.

The four other dates are the ones requested by Abner's: June 10, July 8, Aug. 12 and Sept. 9. Each one is from 6 to 10 p.m. on a Saturday.

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