Thirsty Powell residents will have to wait a bit longer for the city to enact legislation that would allow them to carry open containers of alcohol from place to place during special events.
For nearly a year, city officials have been discussing the idea of establishing a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA -- a relatively new Ohio legal mechanism that establishes boundaries in which people may carry open containers of alcohol during specified times or events.
During a DORA time or event, specified holders of liquor licenses may fill specially marked cups that may be taken out of the establishments and among the locations.
In February, the city's development committee examined a staff report on the topic and instructed staff members to gather more information.
The initial plan for the DORA set a 77-acre section 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 establishments that would be allowed to serve alcohol in the special cups 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.
Two months later, no new action has been taken on the topic, and city spokeswoman Megan Canavan said the city will "take the next few months to research the DORA and look at other municipalities that have implemented a DORA."
In the staff report, Powell staff members are looking at DORAs in Delaware, Hilliard, Marysville and Worthington, as well as Mason and Middletown near Cincinnati.
Canavan said the process has slowed to the point that "if the city decides to move forward with a DORA, it will likely be later this year or in 2020."
In February, Powell City Council member and operations committee Chairman Brian Lorenz thanked members of the development committee for their work on the topic and said the operations committee would "really value advancing this" to council so 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.
Now, with DORA plans further on the horizon, Lorenz said the delay is just fine with him. He said while it would have been nice to have the program established before spring and summer events, it's not worth rushing a piece of legislation.
"I'm not disappointed at all; it's not ready," he said of the DORA plans. "There's a lot of buy-in that needs to happen in both committees and council. Anything we put out to our residents and businesses, we want to make sure we're doing appropriately and our due diligence is taken care of and we're on the right path."
Canavan said city staff members now will work to gain more feedback from businesses and residents before bringing the topic back for discussion.
"Sometimes, slowing your roll on things like this can be a better option than not," Lorenz said. "There's no need to rush anything. We want things to be successful and we want to do it fairly and equitably."