Finding Legal Resolutions For Business-Minded People

Ohio’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas (DORAs)

by | Nov 30, 2022 | Firm News

In Ohio, DORA is a lot more than an animated children’s TV series. DORA has legal significance in that it allows citizens to enjoy adult beverages beyond the confines of a bar or restaurant and into parks, city centers, and sidewalks; hence the name, Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area.

Ohio’s DORA law first went into effect in 2015.  Only municipal corporations (cities, villages, townships) may create a DORA.  A private citizen or company can’t form a DORA.  Essentially, Ohio’s DORA law gives great discretion to local government leader in determining where and whether to create a DORA, subject to some limitations:

  • If the city’s population is greater than 50,000, no more than 6 DORA’s may exist within the city limits, and the DORA’s must not exceed 640 contiguous acres in size; and
  • If the city’s population is less than or equal to 50,000, no more than 3 DORA’s may exist withiin the city limits, and the DORA’s must not exceed 320 contiguous acres in size.

Once a local government establishes a DORA, it must pass an ordinance or resolution concerning the details of the DORA:

  • The specific boundaries of the area, including street addresses;
  • The number, spacing, and type of signage designating the area;
  • The hours of operation for the area;
  • The number of personnel needed to ensure public safety in the area;
  • A sanitation plan that will help maintain the appearance and public health of the area;
  • The number of personnel needed to execute the sanitation plan; and
  • A requirement that beer and intoxicating liquor be served solely in plastic bottles or other non-glass containers in the area.

People have differing opinions concerning DORAs:  Some people are all for the freedom to walk around the neighboorhood with an tasty adulty bev, though others may view it as a catalyst for noise, nuisances, and crime. Thus, Ohio law requires signfiicant public debate before a local government can put a DORA within its limits.

Where are some the DORAs in central Ohio?

  • Arena District;
  • Historic Downtown Worthington;
  • Uptown Westerville;
  • Gahanna’s Creekside;
  • Bexley’s Main Street District;
  • Grove City’s Historic Town Center;
  • Historic Dublin and Bridge Park;
  • Olde Hilliard;
  • Downtown Powell.

Learn more about central Ohio’s DORA’s at Experience Columbus.  The Ohio Division of Liquor Control, which is the state government agency that issues liquor permits, maintains a list of DORA’s on its website too.  You’ll want to first check whether the DORA has specific time limitations, as some are open during specific hours or events, such as the Arena District DORA (three hours before the start of every Blue Jackets, Clippers and Crew home game until midnight, in addition to special events).

Next time, enjoy your beer, wine, or cocktail outside within one of Ohio’s DORAs (as long as it’s in a non-glass container)!