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Posted on: May 29, 2020

Council Discusses Outdoor Dining and a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area

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HUDSON, OH (May 27, 2020) – At Tuesday’s Council Workshop, Hudson City Council discussed creating a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) in downtown Hudson to support merchants during the coronavirus pandemic. Creating a DORA would allow customers to purchase alcoholic beverages and be free to walk around in a specific geographic area.

Requested by the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce, the Merchants of Hudson Association, and Destination Hudson, a DORA would help downtown businesses as they struggle to re-open and offer additional opportunities for the community to transition back to socialization, while helping to keep Hudson a top-of-mind destination for visitors.

As support for business reopening, the City has placed picnic tables in public areas to allow for take-out to be enjoyed outdoors while socially distancing. Additionally, the City has installed 15-minute curbside pick-up parking signs adjacent to each restaurant.

The DORA would be implemented as a pilot program through December of 2020. As a pilot project, it would allow the City and merchants to weigh the advantages and disadvantages and determine if it should become permanent.

A first reading of legislation will be before Council next week, and a public hearing would be held at a subsequent meeting. If approved by Council, the City would apply to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control which would then issue permits to all liquor permit holders located in the DORA.

Highlights from the program requested by the three community/merchant organizations include:

  • Hours of operation would be seven days a week from 12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m.
  • The boundaries would be in the downtown for the Main Street and First & Main area.
  • Alcoholic beverages could be purchased (must be 21 or older and supply an ID) from a liquor permit holder establishment within the DORA. DORA beverages would be sold in specifically branded DORA cups. Drinks not purchased in a DORA cup cannot be taken from the premises.
  • Participants could drink and walk around inside the designated area which would be marked by signage. The beverages could not be taken from one bar/restaurant to another.
  • Establishments offering DORA drinks would have signage indicating they are participating in the program or that DORA drinks are welcome in a retail establishment.
  • Individuals cannot bring their own alcoholic drinks into the district. Walking around with alcohol that is not in a designated DORA plastic cup is not permitted. Additionally, no cans, glass, or other unapproved alcohol is allowed.

Due to the time required to receive state approvals, Council would like to move this pilot program forward quickly. Legislation will appear on next week’s City Council agenda.

In addition to the DORA, City Council also discussed working with merchants to allow outdoor seating areas for restaurants on public rights-of-way. The City already allows outdoor seating as an accessory use on private property which is regulated by the Land Development Code. Council agreed to move forward with legislation on the agenda for next week’s Council Meeting that would authorize a license agreement for outdoor seating in a public right of way. The location of the outdoor dining would be subject to review to ensure it meets the criteria set forth in the legislation. If the criteria are met, a license agreement would be issued.

Restaurants wanting to have outdoor dining on their private property can contact the Hudson Community Development Department at (330) 342-1790 for assistance on getting the necessary approvals under the Land Development Code allowance.

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