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Outdoor drinking to start earlier for St. Patrick’s Day in downtown Middletown

Just in time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Middletown City Council approved extending the hours for the city’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area in downtown Middletown.

The normal DORA hours are from 6 p.m. to midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and the hours can be extended for special events with a request to the chief of police.

MORE: Hamilton looks at outdoor drinking downtown: What makes it work?

Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw recommended approving the request to extend the hours on Saturday, running from 8 a.m. to midnight.

“They believe this will encourage community to come to the area earlier than usual, and to stay later, thus promoting commerce in the downtown area,” Muterspaw said in recommendation to council.

MORE: Hamilton leaning toward allowing downtown drinking in some areas

In late December 2015, downtown Middletown’s DORA district was the first authorized by the state of Ohio. Since then, other Ohio cities have created their own DORA districts or have contacted Middletown officials for information and advice periodically, said Jennifer Ekey, the city’s economic development coordinator.

Ekey said many of the questions city officials are asked focus on the overall experience of having a DORA district and how the city and businesses manage it.

Shelby Quinlivan, city communications coordinator, said there have not been any incidents in the city’s DORA district. She said the city’s largest concern is the trash generated but that the city already has a plan to reduce that issue.

MORE: Middletown’s open container district open in time for New Year’s Eve

Quinlivan said city officials have met with the downtown businesses and are planning on having a single DORA cup instead of each establishment coming up with its own unique cup for patrons to use outside.

In Butler County, Hamilton is in the process of establishing a DORA district.

Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith said the public hearing for the DORA is scheduled for Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, when the first reading of the ordinance will be read.

Liz Hayden, Hamilton’s planning director, said the goal is to have it in effect by May 1.

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