Council moves forward with DORA

Tiffin City Council decided to move forward with a vote on a new version of the DORA at their next official meeting.

Council had a committee of the whole meeting on Wednesday, when it discussed the possibility of going ahead with the DORA, or designated outdoor refreshment area. Council also heard concerns and support from several Tiffin business owners and citizens present at the meeting. Council President Mark Hayes held an unofficial straw poll of the city council at the end of the meeting and every member of council voted yes to going forward with the new DORA plan. The new proposal will include changes made to the original proposal, which was voted down at the council meeting Dec. 17.

Mayor Aaron Montz described the compromises made by administration in order to address certain concerns that council and the mayor’s office heard from Tiffin residents about the original DORA plan. First, Montz suggested the DORA be in place every Tuesday through Saturday, and not operate on Sundays or Mondays. The designated time period during which the DORA is operating on those days also will change to 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and remain open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.

The original DORA proposal allowed alcohol in the DORA from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every Monday through Saturday. Some citizens and council members expressed concern for this time period, particularly for how it overlapped with the time when students would be let out of school and walking home through town.

“We wanted to limit interactions with high school students,” Montz said.

The mayor and administration also decided to remove the East Green area from the proposed DORA district.

“We’ve decided to exclude the East Green complex area from the DORA. This way we can see what the true impact of the DORA is at the end of the year, and decide later if we ever want to consider expanding it to the East Green,” Montz said.

John Kerschner, a representative from the East Green Complex, made clear the East Green’s desire to remain out of the bounds of the DORA.

“The East Green is strongly against the DORA, especially concerning the Splash Pad, Play Fountain and summer concert series,” he said. “Alcohol is still prohibited at the amphitheater, and we want it to continue to be prohibited in the area, and on the adjacent area of Jefferson Street.”

Mayor Montz also mentioned the possibility of suspending the DORA during certain special events, such as the Heritage Festival. “We don’t want the DORA to reduce the amount of money brought in by the Heritage Festival, most of which is made through beer sales,” he said. “City Council will need to decide what is excluded from the DORA in the future.”

Some city council members expressed their issues with the original DORA proposal and certain concerns they heard from citizens. Councilman Joe Hartzell said there were some business owners who thought they wouldn’t have to procure a license to sell alcohol or purchase liability insurance any longer, because they believed the DORA should cover these concerns of legality. Hartzell also brought up the issue of citizens who owned private property that would fall within the bounds of the DORA. “I can imagine people wanting to take a rest on somebody’s front steps if they’re walking through the DORA, people’s private property. What will be done about that?” he asked.

Council Law Director Brent Howard then clarified certain DORA rules that must be followed. Regarding liquor licenses and liability insurance for business owners, Howard said that “business owners will have to continue to do what they’ve done in the past, obtaining a permit for selling alcohol and liability insurance.”

The mayor added, “Injuries that may be incurred and public intoxication issues will still fall under disorderly conduct, the same laws that are in place now. Issues like this can still come back on the establishments, or the people responsible.”

Howard also said that he’s sure that people will be allowed to enter their own homes downtown with DORA drinks if the areas outside their homes fall within the DORA.

Council President Hayes stated at the opening of the meeting that Council was happy to finally see some response about the DORA from Tiffin’s downtown business owners. “We were concerned that establishments hadn’t come forward when we first announced the DORA, but now have letters from Madison Street Tavern, Phat Cakes, and The Laird Arcade Brewery and others,” he said.

Mayor Montz also described the possible benefits for downtown businesses that the DORA was always meant to produce. “This is meant to help our restaurants downtown,” he said. “There is sometimes an hour wait at Madison Street Tavern on Taco Night, but what if you could get a beer while you stand outside and wait to be seated? And Phat Cakes and Reino’s wanted to serve wine and beer at their outdoor tables, but they couldn’t do that until the DORA was offered.”

“We want people to be able to take their beverages outside down to our beautiful new park downtown. I don’t think we’re going to see a parade of drunk people, after talking with cities that have already implemented this,” he said.

Tiffin business owners were also at the meeting to discuss and expressed their support of the DORA. Dave Spridgeon, owner of The Renaissance Refined Spirits at 129 S. Washington St., said, “I don’t think any business here wants this to fail.” Spridgeon also responded to concerns that the DORA will open Tiffin up to more problems with public intoxication. “I believe every business owner here is responsible,” he said. “Our employees go through tips training, so they can learn to cut people off politely. Otherwise, our interest rates skyrocket because once people leave our establishment, it’s on us if something happens.”

Marlene Reino, owner of Reino’s Pizza and Pasta at 73 E. Market St., agreed. “If something happens involving someone who came into our establishment, the last thing they’ll find on them might be a DORA cup with our logo on it,” she said. “I think anybody here with a liquor license knows that’s a big deal.”

Reino’s comment relates to another DORA regulation that the city of Tiffin will put in place, which is that drinks served by DORA-participating establishments will have the establishment’s logo on them.

Dan Perry, owner of Tiffin Pedal Co., which will give tours of Tiffin for customers on a 15-seat party bike, said that he definitely wanted his company involved. “It would be a huge help for my business, and I think that we need to encourage change and stay up with the times,” he said. “I’m supporting it as a citizen as well as a business owner.”

Some council members expressed their approval of Montz and the city of Tiffin’s efforts to make changes to the original plan. Council member Jim Roberts thanked the mayor and those who worked on the new plan.

“I think the mayor’s compromise is an excellent one. It answers all of the concerns I had, and it satisfies the East Green project, and though it may need some more fine tweaking down the line, I think we should move forward with it,” he said.

Council member Ben Gillig said that he was “impressed with the compromises the mayor made,” and that he was sure that “if there are any issues with it, then the proper measures will be taken to deal with them.”

Administration plans to have the new DORA proposal ready for the city council to officially vote on at their next meeting Tuesday. The meeting will be at the council’s temporary meeting place, the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center at 928 W Market St.. pending the DORA during certain special events, such as the Heritage Festival. “We don’t want the DORA to reduce the amount of money brought in by the Heritage Festival, most of which is made through beer sales,” he said. “City Council will need to decide what is excluded from the DORA in the future.”

Some city council members expressed their issues with the original DORA proposal and certain concerns they heard from citizens. Councilman Joe Hartzell said there were some business owners who thought they wouldn’t have to procure a license to sell alcohol or purchase liability insurance any longer, because they believed the DORA should cover these concerns of legality. Hartzell also brought up the issue of citizens who owned private property that would fall within the bounds of the DORA. “I can imagine people wanting to take a rest on somebody’s front steps if they’re walking through the DORA, people’s private property. What will be done about that?” he asked.

Council Law Director Brent Howard then clarified certain DORA rules that must be followed. Regarding liquor licenses and liability insurance for business owners, Howard said that “business owners will have to continue to do what they’ve done in the past, obtaining a permit for selling alcohol and liability insurance.”

The mayor added, “Injuries that may be incurred and public intoxication issues will still fall under disorderly conduct, the same laws that are in place now. Issues like this can still come back on the establishments, or the people responsible.”

Howard also said that he’s sure that people will be allowed to enter their own homes downtown with DORA drinks if the areas outside their homes fall within the DORA.

Council President Hayes stated at the opening of the meeting that Council was happy to finally see some response about the DORA from Tiffin’s downtown business owners. “We were concerned that establishments hadn’t come forward when we first announced the DORA, but now have letters from Madison Street Tavern, Phat Cakes, and The Laird Arcade Brewery and others,” he said.

Mayor Montz also described the possible benefits for downtown businesses that the DORA was always meant to produce. “This is meant to help our restaurants downtown,” he said. “There is sometimes an hour wait at Madison Street Tavern on Taco Night, but what if you could get a beer while you stand outside and wait to be seated? And Phat Cakes and Reino’s wanted to serve wine and beer at their outdoor tables, but they couldn’t do that until the DORA was offered.”

“We want people to be able to take their beverages outside down to our beautiful new park downtown. I don’t think we’re going to see a parade of drunk people, after talking with cities that have already implemented this,” he said.

Tiffin business owners were also at the meeting to discuss and expressed their support of the DORA. Dave Spridgeon, owner of The Renaissance Refined Spirits at 129 S. Washington St., said, “I don’t think any business here wants this to fail.” Spridgeon also responded to concerns that the DORA will open Tiffin up to more problems with public intoxication. “I believe every business owner here is responsible,” he said. “Our employees go through tips training, so they can learn to cut people off politely. Otherwise, our interest rates skyrocket because once people leave our establishment, it’s on us if something happens.”

Marlene Reino, owner of Reino’s Pizza and Pasta at 73 E. Market St., agreed. “If something happens involving someone who came into our establishment, the last thing they’ll find on them might be a DORA cup with our logo on it,” she said. “I think anybody here with a liquor license knows that’s a big deal.”

Reino’s comment relates to another DORA regulation that the city of Tiffin will put in place, which is that drinks served by DORA-participating establishments will have the establishment’s logo on them.

Dan Perry, owner of Tiffin Pedal Co., which will give tours of Tiffin for customers on a 15-seat party bike, said that he definitely wanted his company involved. “It would be a huge help for my business, and I think that we need to encourage change and stay up with the times,” he said. “I’m supporting it as a citizen as well as a business owner.”

Some council members expressed their approval of Montz and the city of Tiffin’s efforts to make changes to the original plan. Council member Jim Roberts thanked the mayor and those who worked on the new plan.

“I think the mayor’s compromise is an excellent one. It answers all of the concerns I had, and it satisfies the East Green project, and though it may need some more fine tweaking down the line, I think we should move forward with it,” he said.

Council member Ben Gillig said that he was “impressed with the compromises the mayor made,” and that he was sure that “if there are any issues with it, then the proper measures will be taken to deal with them.”

Administration plans to have the new DORA proposal ready for the city council to officially vote on at their next meeting Tuesday. The meeting will be at the council’s temporary meeting place, the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center at 928 W Market St..

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