Is Bexley Patio on tap? DORA again to come before City Council on April 13

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek
City of Bexley

A “Bexley Patio,” allowing participating restaurants along East Main Street to expand outdoor seating areas, will be created if Bexley City Council approves Ordinance 10-21. 

Mayor Ben Kessler submitted the application for a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) on Feb. 25.

On March 30, council held the third reading and public hearing but voted 7-0 to table the ordinance until the April 13 meeting to allow for further discussion and public input. 

Kessler said he initially proposed the concept in May 2020 to encourage social distancing among restaurant patrons amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Since then, Kessler said he and has worked with Matt Klingler, council’s Recreation and Parks Committee chair, to develop the concept. 

Rather than an actual “patio,” the DORA would serve as a district running along East Main Street. The proposed boundaries of the DORA are between Alum Creek to the west and Cassingham Road to the east and bounded on the north and south by the East Main Street service alleys.  

If approved, the DORA will be in effect year-round from 4 p.m. to midnight Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays. 

DORA also will provide economic benefits to Bexley establishments, Kessler said. 

“As we continue to look for ways to help businesses in the pandemic, it gives us a way to get people spread out a little bit more and allow more options for take-out dining,” Kessler said. 

The DORA would enable restaurants with liquor permits to serve alcoholic beverages in a specified compostable cup. The cup will be used to serve alcohol that is carried off the premises and will be printed with a “Bexley Patio Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area” logo and the rules for participating in the DORA.  

Council member Richard Sharp said he’s concerned whether residences whose homes border East Main Street would be affected by noise if the DORA ends at midnight seven days a week. 

The city’s existing noise ordinance “limits yelling, shouting, whistling, singing, et cetera, noise, in general, on public streets after 11 p.m.,” Sharp said. 

Bexley City Attorney Marc Fishel said the existing noise ordinance will continue to apply if the DORA is approved.

“While people could still be out partaking in their beverage of choice in and on Main Street, if they are acting in a manner that violates that ordinance, they would be subject to being cited for violating that ordinance,” he said. 

In response to council member Monique Lampke asking how the DORA would affect existing open-container laws, Kessler said patrons will not be allowed to carry open alcoholic beverages in bottles, cans or containers other than in the official DORA cups outside restaurants’ confines.  

“It provides for the ability to have an open container, provided that it’s in a cup provided by a restaurant, purchased lawfully and stays within the district,” Kessler said.  

Council member Jen Robinson asked how restaurant staff and local law enforcement will respond if patrons become unruly.  

“What kind of ability to staff have to say, ‘Hey, we're going to shut this down,’ and then secondly, how much do we have a hand in saying to our (police) officers when we would like to have them in place out and about, if we find that there's any concern after the 11 o'clock hour?” Robinson said.  

Kessler said restaurants would have limited ability to monitor patrons once they've left the restaurant’s property. He said he consulted with police Chief Larry Rinehart, who assured him that the department is prepared for any incidents that could arise. 

“The chief’s opinion was that the resources that we have today are currently adequate to handle those concerns, but certainly it's not out of the question that we would have some additional coverage dedicated, especially during the launch (of the DORA),” Kessler said.  

Klingler said he has consulted with other central Ohio communities that have implemented DORAs, such as Gahanna, Hilliard and Worthington. 

“It’s been nothing but a success for them. They've had no issues, and it's been great for the restaurants,” hesaid. “I didn't see any major any issues at all with this program in those communities.”  

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