Nelsonville officials hope to boost event attendance with Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area

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NELSONVILLE, Ohio (WOUB) – Nelsonville officials want to allow people to drink alcohol outside in the town square to drive more customers to local businesses.

Photo of town square in Nelsonville Ohio. The town's fountain in on the left hand side of the image with buildings on the right.
The town square in Nelsonville [WOUB]
The city’s Planning and Development Committee plans to propose a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA. This allows for communities to create an area where the open carry of alcohol is legal.

The city of Athens adopted a DORA last July for its uptown area. The committee said this has been successful for the city and would like to bring that to Nelsonville.

Ohio legislators passed a law in 2015 allowing city’s to create DORAs. Committee member Doug Childs said he couldn’t find a negative complaint anywhere in the state in the seven years since.

Nelsonville City Manager Scott Frank attended Thursday’s committee meeting to voice his support for the proposal.

“I would like to see a lot of entertainment on the square and I think DORA will enhance that,” he said. “It will allow folks to come and enjoy and hopefully lead to a lot of economic development.” 

The committee outlined an area that circled the town square and included the three local businesses that have their liquor licenses.

Frank said the introduction of DORA would bring more business to these establishments.

“If we are doing normal entertainment up on the square, I would hope that they would get a lot more business than they currently are now from locals and not much happening,” he said.

Committee members said they reached out to a number of businesses, including the three licensed bars, and have not heard any opposition to the proposal. The Nelsonville Chamber of Commerce sent the committee a formal letter of support.

The potential change is still in its initial stages but Frank said the city will look to move quickly. 

“We actually had a prior councilwoman who pioneered it,” he said. “She actually got it pretty far and our new councilman is picking it up but a lot of the legwork has already been done. We are going to meet next week again, so hopefully we have legislation in front of council by our next council meeting.”

Frank believes that DORA could be implemented as early as mid-August.