Lima committee studies outdoor drinking area

By Sam Shriver - [email protected]

LIMA — Members of Lima’s council spent a meeting Tuesday night walking through their concerns about a proposed Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA for short.

Lima City Council’s Economic and Community Development Committee discussed the draft application for a 113-acre DORA, mainly in the downtown business district.

The DORA would ease or make more accessible outdoor dining in front of establishments holding liquor permits and allow them to serve alcohol in a plastic cup. Each business would have a different cup that’s only good for that day. The creation of the DORA would relieve these establishments of current requirements for fencing around a dining area.

In addition to the established DORA hours, Lima’s would offer a special permit during events held outside the established DORA hours of operation, allowing individuals to walk around the DORA boundaries with an alcoholic beverage purchased from a liquor permit-holding establishment. This authority would be limited initially to Toast of the City, Rally in the Square, Square Fair, Chocolate Walk and Holiday Walk.

Peggy Ehora, 4th Ward councilor, voiced concerns about people who have a DORA cup could refill their cup with alcohol they have in their vehicle and then walk up and down the street, attending events like Rally in the Square.

“How do we stop people from trying to work around it?” Ehora asked.

Sharetta Smith, Chief of Staff to Mayor David Berger said, “I can’t sit here and tell you that there’ll be a foolproof way to stop people from going to their car and filling their cup.”

Derry Glenn, 6th Ward councilor, was concerned about the potential need for additional police officers to patrol the DORA.

“I did contact other chiefs and deputy chiefs where they have DORA’s in place, and every one of them saw decreases in calls for service,” said Kevin Martin, Lima’s police chief.

Smith, who led the presentation before the council committee, indicated they’ve looked at a couple of different communities to see how they’re dealing with policing issues.

“Both in the trips we took to Hamilton, Ohio, and the polling of other communities, all of these communities came back and said they did not have to hire additional police officers,” Smith said. “In fact, the police officer in Hamilton pointed out that the increased amount of persons in the area was a deterrent for criminal activity.”

Todd Gordon, 1st Ward councilor, said he was concerned about whether Rhodes State College is OK with establishing a DORA, citing potential problems with crime and litter at the downtown campus, which is currently under construction.

“Where you have alcohol, you have problems, sometimes,” Gordon said. “I would feel more comfortable with more police presence, especially on the weekends. I am not against this. I really want to see downtown thrive and businesses grow.”

By Sam Shriver

[email protected]

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

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