The city of Powell is moving closer to establishing legislation that would allow downtown visitors to carry open containers from place to place during special events.

The city's development committee has been discussing the idea of a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, a relatively new Ohio legal mechanism that establishes boundaries in which people may walk around with open containers during specified times or events.

During a DORA time or event, specified holders of liquor licenses can fill specially marked cups that can be taken out of the establishments and among the different locations.

According to a report prepared by city staff members, Powell is looking toward existing DORA areas nearby in Delaware, Hilliard, Marysville and Worthington, as well as Mason and Middletown near Cincinnati.

The main difference between the central Ohio and Cincinnati-area examples are the times in which the DORAs takes effect. Each of the four central Ohio DORAs are active only during special events, while Mason (every day from noon to midnight) and Middletown (daily during different hours) are based on time.

Development committee Chairman and Powell City Councilman Frank Bertone said during council's Feb. 5 meeting that a Powell DORA likely would be only for special events.

However, according to the staff report, Powell's proposed DORA easily would be the largest in central Ohio.

The initial plan for the DORA area would be a 77-acre area covering the entirety of "the downtown area," stretching approximately from Murphy Parkway on the west to Grace Drive on the east.

In the report, 14 potential DORA establishments are listed: Annie's Wine Cottage, Board and Brush Creative Studios, Country Carryout, the Daily Growler, Huli Huli, Koble Grill, Kraft House No. 5, Liberty Tavern & Patios, Local Roots & Patio, Nocterra Brewing, the Powell Village Winery, Prohibition Gastro Lounge & Patio, Saffron Indian Grill and Savoir Cooking & Wine.

If the Powell DORA were to be established at 77 acres, it would be significantly larger than those in Hilliard (5 acres), Marysville (14 acres) and Worthington (4 acres).

Powell did not have data on the acreage of Delaware's boundaries, though Delaware leaders said the city's DORA covers six city blocks in the downtown area.

The next step, according to the report, will be for city staff members to reach out to those establishments for opinions.

James Knott, co-owner of the newly opened Nocterra Brewing, said the brewery's leadership hadn't heard about the concept in Powell, but said they'd certainly be open to the idea.

"We think it sounds pretty cool," he said.

"It's definitely an interesting concept for us. We want Powell to be a destination, and we think that law could definitely affect how downtown Powell is viewed."

Costs for the establishment of the DORA would be minimal, largely earmarked for signs explaining the rules and extra trash receptacles.

With the development committee's approval, the plan is being fast-tracked to some extent so that it can be applied to spring events, city leaders said.

Councilman Brian Lorenz, chairman of the operations committee, spoke briefly Feb. 5, sharing that the operations committee would "really value advancing this" to council so that it could be established before May's Powell Street Market -- which will include temporary closure of Olentangy Street -- and a new Friday-night outdoor concert series.

The DORA will need to be approved by City Council before it is established.

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