SPRINGBORO, Ohio — With the success of the city’s initial Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area at Wright Station, Springboro officials are planning to extend the concept into the historic downtown district.
Assistant City Manager Greg Shackleford said there is interest in expanding the DORA district to both sides of Main Street south of Ohio 73 to just south of Mill Street/Lower Springboro Road.
Shackleford said this proposed expansion will allow other liquor permit holders on South Main Street to participate in the DORA program, which allows people to drink alcoholic beverages while walking around outside the establishments.
The beverages are sold in special cups obtained through the city and are not subject to open container laws. Local businesses in a DORA district can self-identify if they are part of the DORA program and whether customers with DORA cups can enter stores or not.
So far, Shackleford said there have been no problems as a result of creating the DORA district.
Springboro enacted its DORA ordinance in April 2020, but it did not go into effect until Warped Wing at Wright Station obtained its liquor permit from the state and opened in August 2020, Shackleford said. He said Warped Wing is responsible for 60% of the DORA sales.
Shackleford said the city is still gathering additional information and said council will see an ordinance to expand the DORA district in July or August.
City officials hosted a meeting of business and property owners from South Main Street and said most businesses were receptive to the proposals.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Heather Sukola, owner of Heather’s Coffee & Café. “It will bring more foot traffic for the businesses during festivals and other special events such as Ladies Night Out. I’m glad the city has included us.”
She said she does not expect “a mad rush coming downtown” but said it will help for the special events and weekends as people would like to have their drink in hand walking around outside enjoying the events.
Brandi Blanton, owner of the K&W Drive-in, said she’d rather stay out of the DORA district and plans to have signs posted to that effect.
“We’re all for more business coming downtown and we have a great downtown community,” Blanton said. “But we don’t want to be in the DORA.”
Blanton attended the meeting June 6 with city officials, residents and business owners along South Main Street.
Blanton said she’s concerned about her employees, some who are as young as 14, leaving at night, as well as picking up half-full cups of various alcoholic beverages and other trash. She also cited issues with increased traffic, noting some people don’t yield the right of way to pedestrians in the crosswalks.
Some other local communities also have DORAs. The city of Lebanon expanded its DORA district last year north on Broadway to match the proposed boundary for the Community Entertainment District.
In late December 2015, downtown Middletown’s DORA district was the first authorized by the state of Ohio. Since then, Middletown officials said other Ohio cities have created their own DORA districts or have contacted Middletown officials for information and advice periodically.