Tiffin will join over two dozen other communities in Ohio with a designated outdoor refreshment area (DORA) after City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to pass an ordinance approving its implementation downtown.
The ordinance allowing patrons of liquor permitted establishments within the DORA boundary to possess a specially marked open container within the designated area will take effect in July.
Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz introduced DORA legislation in May as a way of helping business to reopen after social distancing measures were put in place reducing the number of people allowed to dine in at restaurants.
“I’m happy to see council take a proactive step for our community and allow those Downtown Tiffin businesses that previously were unable to offer outdoor dining an opportunity to do so during these challenging times,” Montz said.
DORA beverages must be purchased from a participating liquor licensed establishment within the designated district; maps are to be distributed to participating vendors and signage is posted at the boundaries of the DORA area.
Businesses owners may post signage to exclude their property from DORA participation.
The only open container allowed will be the designated, specially marked DORA cup purchased from a participating establishment, and a DORA cup cannot be brought into another liquor licensed establishment.
The hours during which beverages will be allowed within the area are 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.
The Tiffin City Council reserves the right to suspend the DORA at any time, for any reason, and the Ordinance will sunset on Dec. 31,2020, prior to which time council may vote to make it permanent in the City of Tiffin.
The concept was presented to council by a recommendation from the Downtown Development Committee of the Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership in October 2018 as a way ease or make more accessible outdoor dining and allow patrons to enjoy a beverage within the district’s boundaries.
The proposal submitted to council laid out the hours of operation, boundaries, and establishments to be included in the district, as well as safety and sanitation plans, which were the result of a full year of due diligence and research into communities of a similar size with DORAs in place.
Amy Reinhart, Downtown Main Street Manger for Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership, said: “This not only will help our businesses following the COVID-19 pandemic, but will continue to make Tiffin a destination in our region and enhances the experience of those patrons visiting Downtown Tiffin.”
Council members Steve Lepard and Ken Jones stated while they supported the DORA ordinance for this year to support local businesses amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, they may vote differently when it is presented again for renewal at the end of the year.
Signs designating the DORA have been posted throughout the city by the Public Works Department prior to council’s vote, a move City Administrator Dale Thornton apologized for during the meeting and called an “error” that was “ahead of the political process.”