A photo of Court Street in Uptown Athens.
Athens City Council is considering an ordinance to allow open containers of alcohol to be taken outside in the summer months in the Uptown Athens area. [Nick Viland | WOUB]

Athens City Council Starts Process To Allow Open Containers Outside

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ATHENS, Ohio — Athens City Council on Monday had a first reading on a DORA, or designated outdoor refreshment area, ordinance.

This area would allow anyone over 21 to take their alcoholic beverage outside of the bar and onto sidewalks to enjoy other non-drinking establishments in the uptown Athens area or just enjoy a beer in the summer sunshine on a bench.

Over 40 other cities in Ohio that have already set up DORAs, and Athens has the ideal set up to be next, said Jessica Thomas, chair of the Athens Uptown Business Association.

“We have a great uptown, walkable, reasonably sized area with a lot of different types of businesses,” she said. “In the summer it is just so slow in Athens that this is something else we can add that will really just bring another reason for people to come uptown.”

Other cities have reported a positive experience with their DORAs. 

“I’ve spoken to Mayor Luke Feeney in Chillicothe and asked, ‘How’s your DORA working? Is it working as designed?’ and he claimed, ‘Yes it is working as expected to where we’re seeing more people coming into the downtown area and enjoying our shops,’” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said.

There are guidelines of how this DORA will function, if passed.

Proposed area of expected DORA.

The DORA would include the majority of Court Street and a part of Union Street. Inside this area people can go to a bar and receive a special DORA compostable cup that will allow them to take the cup outside and anywhere within the applicable area.

Each bar would have to file for DORA approval on their liquor license and receive a stamp that will allow the bar to be a part of the program.

The DORA would be in effect from May 17 to August 17 on Thursdays to Sundays. Thursday, Friday and Saturday it would run from noon to 10 p.m., and Sunday it would run from noon to 8 p.m.

Once passed, this will be a five-year program that can be rescinded if any problems arise.

The ordinance will be read during the next two City Council meetings and could be changed before a final vote, but Patterson is hopeful that if the DORA is passed it will be up and running by the end of July.