DORAs are not swell for all businesses

COLUMBIANA — The city’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) implementation has become so popular that city council continues fielding requests for new events — but that doesn’t mean the events are the best for everyone.

A DORA allows for the open carry of alcohol within a designated area during specific times.

The majority of council approved another DORA event for Sept. 21 during this week’s council meeting, but also heard feedback from at least one business owner who said that she and some other business owners in town are negatively affected.

The DORA will be held during the Oktoberfest scheduled for 4-9 p.m. Sept. 21 on part of Main Street. The event was requested by the Alive at Five Columbiana Committee in cooperation with the local Way Station.

As they have for all other DORA events, council members Dan Bekar and Crystal Siembida-Boggs abstained from the vote. They have previously voiced their opposition about the open carry of alcohol.

Amanda Bowker, owner of Pewter Peddlers at 25 S. Main St., said that she loses business as a result of street closures required by DORA and other special events.

She also said that she cannot serve alcohol or allow alcohol on her retail business property, which means that those open carrying during the DORA cannot come inside even if they wanted to.

She told council there are other businesses that also cannot have alcohol on their property.

Bowker said the DORA events are good for the businesses that have alcohol licenses, and those who aren’t affected by street closures, but wanted council to be aware that not every business in town benefits from the events.

She was the only business owner who spoke to council that evening, but said there are others in town that voiced the same concerns to her.

She pointed out that the city has an event planned for every weekend in September, and is worried about how future road closures will affect her.

City Manager Lance Willard said that not every DORA or other event requires a road closure.

Bekar and Siembida-Boggs recalled that when the city was first discussing allowing the DORA, it was going to be for one event a month.

The city has held three DORA events since June, with another scheduled for this weekend during the new chalk art festival.

Council also heard from Columbiana Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director April Brinker, who provided a proposal for DORA enactment request procedures.

Brinker said the proposal came about from chamber committee members.

The proposal requests that anyone requesting a DORA must first:

— Obtain permission and a signature from the event organization or organizer with whom the DORA would coincide.

— Obtain signatures from all five alcohol permit holders.

— Notify all businesses and organizations within the DORA perimeter at least one week prior to the council meeting in which the request will be made, the date the request is to be made, and if street closure is being requested.

Council said they would consider the proposal. In order to enact the procedure, council will need to pass legislation to do so. That legislation will not be required to go to the state for approval.

As for the Oktoberfest event, Gail Patrick representing the Way Station, said it will be a family friendly event that will raise money for the non-profit organization.

The event will result in a road closure from the traffic circle to Friend Street and will consist of an Alp horn blowing contest, stein hoisting contest, costume contest, grape stomping, beer barrel race, bounce house and even a yodeling competition.

Kelly Pavlik, owner of Mi Gym on East Park Avenue, also said he was invited to participate in the event by hosting an amateur boxing show in the parking lot of his business.

He said the show would be held from 4-9 p.m. as well and would feature about eight or nine fights.

It would require a road closure of the alley near the railroad tracks.