Fairfield approves designated outdoor drinking; DORA goes into effect in July

The city of Fairfield OK'd on Monday, June 13, 2022, the establishment of a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA, in the Village Green area of the city. Several businesses, including Berd's Grill & Bar and Applebee's, are included within the district. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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The city of Fairfield OK'd on Monday, June 13, 2022, the establishment of a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA, in the Village Green area of the city. Several businesses, including Berd's Grill & Bar and Applebee's, are included within the district. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area will be rolled out at July 14 Village Green concert.

Fairfield will be the next local community to allow alcoholic beverages in a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area when it is rolled out next month.

City Council approved to submit the application to the Ohio Department of Commerce, thus creating the DORA district in the city’s downtown known as the Town Center.

Fairfield Economic Development Manager Nathaniel Kaelin said the district’s creation will provide for “economic betterment of businesses, residents and property owners within the DORA.”

“Economic growth typically results in increased revenues to the city through the creation of new jobs and gains in property values,” he said.

Kaelin said there will be a soft launch of the DORA district, which incorporates nearly 27 acres in the Town Center.

“We believe council action puts the DORA in place,” Kaelin said. “We don’t have to wait for state approval at this point.”

The public rollout of the DORA district will be on July 14 with the Naked Karate Girls performing at the bimonthly Groovin’ on the Green concert series.

Kaelin said the city will purchase 20,000 16-ounce and 2,000 9-ounce cups that will be distributed to participating establishments after the application is filed with the Ohio Department of Commerce.

All businesses within the DORA district will also receive one of three branded decals. A blue decal will be distributed to establishments that will sell outdoor refreshments provided in branded one-time-use cups. A green decal will be given to businesses that will allow DORA beverages to be brought into their establishments. A red decal will be given to businesses that won’t allow DORA beverages.

Fairfield’s near-27-acre microscope-shaped district includes the park and Community Arts Center and the Village Green shopping center across Wessel Drive, where Berd’s Grill and Bar and LaPinata are located. It also encircles Richard’s Pizza on Nilles, the Fairfield Pub on Nilles, and Applebee’s on Wessel Drive.

Signs and trash receptacles will be placed at the termination points of the DORA district, and Councilman Tim Meyers requested recycling containers also be at these and other locations in the district. City Manager Scott Timmer said Village Green Park is “one of the few locations throughout the Town Center that we do have them, but we can look at adding them at some of those termination points as well.”

DORA districts were established by the Ohio General Assembly in 2015. Middletown was the first city to establish a DORA, and Hamilton’s is the largest in the region, and possibly the state.

At the May 23 public hearing for the DORA district, which was not required to establish the district, a couple of Village Green residents had concerns.

David Yeiser, of Village Drive, said there is a concern that more alcohol use could cause problems and impact sound driving. “We want you to be aware of that concern as these things are considered,” he said.

His wife, Karen, feared introducing more opportunities for public consumption of alcohol has the potential for problems and wants to “keep it a little more homestyle, a little quieter.”

“We do respect our police tremendously but society has gone to more lawlessness, and I think most of us are aware of that. And we don’t want to throw gas on the fire on our village park to make it a more rowdy place to come, especially on Thursday nights during the concerts,” she said.

Neighbor Mary Kerns, of Glade Court, didn’t speak at the public hearing, but stood beside the Yeisers in support of their comments.

City Council said public safety has a 2-to-3-minute response time to the DORA district, which the police department is across Pleasant Avenue and the fire department is nearby on Nilles Road.

The application was requested to be approved by emergency because Councilman Matt Davidson said “we have a certain time frame to get it submitted to the state of Ohio.”

The proposed hours of operation for the DORA district are from noon to midnight seven days a week.

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