Hilliard council asks city to end DORA season one month early

KEVIN CORVO
kcorvo@thisweeknews.com
Joseph Leitz and his father, David, enjoy a beer from Crooked Can Brewing Co. during Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area hours Aug. 26 in Hilliard. City Manager Michelle Crandall amended an executive order Aug. 25 to end the DORA season Sept. 27 instead of Oct. 31.

Old Hilliard’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area season was shortened by a month after Hilliard City Council on Aug. 24 asked City Manager Michelle Crandall to modify its duration.

Instead of ending Oct. 31, the DORA hours will cease Sept. 27, according to an amended executive order Crandall signed Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Crandall told council members the DORA is “an important economic-development tool,” but she suggested trimming its length after learning that some council members had been contacted by business owners outside the DORA boundaries in Old Hilliard.

Looking ahead to next year, council President Andy Teater said council members “need to be mindful” whether expanding the DORA has a negative effect on those restaurants outside the DORA.

“Shortening (the DORA this year) is a compromise,” said council member Tom Baker, who asked the action to be taken.

Council voted 6-0 in support of Baker’s motion; council member Kelly McGivern was absent.

Established in 2018 and as provided by state law, a DORA allows people to consume alcoholic beverages in designated outdoor public areas at specific times.

For the past two years, Hilliard’s DORA times were limited to no more than two nights a week in June, July and August.

But in May, when restaurants began to reopen after Gov. Mike DeWine had ordered restaurants closed to dine-in customers in mid-March to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, City Council approved legislation to expand the DORA boundaries and to add days.

The 2019 DORA hours and days were 6 to 10 p.m. each Thursday from June 6 through Aug. 15, excluding July 4.

On May 26, the 2020 DORA schedule was modified to 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays, and the boundaries of the DORA were expanded, most notably to include both sides of Center Street, from Wayne Street to the entrance of the Heritage Rail Trail.

The city also closed Center Street to vehicles between Main and Wayne streets to set up tables for outdoor seating.

On July 28, an executive order by Crandall added Sunday hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and extended the DORA season, which was set to end Aug. 15, until Oct. 31.

In August, the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce sent a survey to local restaurants outside the DORA, both in Hilliard and Columbus, asking whether the expansion of the DORA had resulted in any positive or negative effects on those businesses, said Libby Gierach, president and CEO of the chamber.

The chamber received 19 responses, she said. Eight businesses indicated a concern about the expanded DORA having a negative impact, she said, and six of the eight that indicated a negative effect are in Hilliard.

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kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo