FAIRBORN – The City of Fairborn will implement a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area which will allow alcoholic beverages to be carried within designated parameters of the downtown area during certain hours of the day.
In the city’s case, the DORA will be referred to as the FORA, or Fairborn Outdoor Refreshment Area. It is seeking an implementation date of Thursday, Aug. 1, in time for the city’s annual Bluegrass and Brews Festival, slated for Friday, Aug. 2.
“The FORA is a designated, defined area within the downtown commercial district where open container liquor laws are modified to allow [individuals] to carry alcoholic beverages in a designated container during certain times of the day without violating the law,” Assistant City Manager Pete Bales said.
He emphasizing that the FORA is being put in place as an economic development initiative to increase foot traffic through downtown Fairborn.
“The intent is not to encourage drinking,” Bales added. “The intent is to get more people downtown, get more people shopping. It’s a tool in our economic development toolbox in an effort to continue downtown revitalization.”
Bars and restaurants in the downtown corridor will have the FORA cups available for purchase. Patrons can purchase the cups and take their drinks with them outdoors within certain parameters of the downtown area. Local business owners will have the option to allow individuals to enter their establishments with the cups or not, which will be indicated by a plastic cling-on sticker on the front of each business.
If the cups are not welcome, individuals will have to throw the cup away before entering the business.
FORA users are not permitted to “bring their own beer.” Individuals are also not permitted to be inside a vehicle with FORA cups within the designated area. The FORA will include hours of operation between noon to midnight Sunday through Saturday year-round. Signage will be erected on every street where the boundaries covered by the FORA come to an end and will contain FORA rules. If FORA users leave the FORA area with an open container of alcohol, they are subject to a citation by the Fairborn Police Department in addition to a fine as they would be violating open container laws. Individuals do not need to purchase a wristband to participate — just the designated cup.
The city highlighted that it can suspend the FORA and its rules for security reasons at any time.
“In a nutshell, someone can go to a bar or restaurant, order a beer and if they desire to take it with them and shop, [the bar or restaurant employee] can pour the drink into a designated plastic cup — all the rules are printed on the cup — and they can take their drink with them and walk within the downtown district,” Bales added.
Citizens expressed concern regarding liter and public intoxication. Bales explained that the liter will be handled by city maintenance workers, who will be assigned to check the area more often after Aug. 1. Additional trash cans may be installed as well. Cups, Bales said, will be compostable as the city is “thinking green.”
The Fairborn Police Department will be tasked with observing the area more often upon implantation.
“Public intoxication is illegal — no matter what,” Bales said. “The police department is fully aware and is on board with the plan.”
If the Fairborn Police Department is dispatched to a public intoxication call, the individual in question faces the possibility of being jailed until they sober up.
“We do everything that we can to get the intoxicated person to a location or into the care of a responsible adult,” Fairborn Police Sergeant Ben Roman said in an email. “If that is not possible, an arrest is made and the person is housed at a jail facility until they are not a harm to themselves anymore and are able to care for their own welfare and safety.”
The City of Middletown was the first community in Ohio to implement a DORA, according to Fairborn. Communications Manager Shelby Quinlivan of Middletown said the city initially implemented the DORA legislation in 2016 and has received positive feedback with no issues regarding litter or public intoxication.
“The DORA has given patrons an opportunity to “drink and stroll” – the chance to check out more of our great downtown,” Quinlivan said. “There was an increase in downtown businesses at the time (and continues to be an increase since the addition of the DORA) and it’s a great way to facilitate people exploring our downtown. We’ve had a great response to the DORA.”
Middletown’s DORA rules are similar to Fairborn’s FORA rules with the exception of having to purchase a wristband for $1 in addition to the cups.
“It’s an opportunity to increase participation during our special events,” Bales said, adding that the beer garden will function like a bar during special events after the FORA is in place.
Fairborn City Council passed legislation in summer 2015 that would allow alcohol to be sold and consumed within city parks during special events under certain guidelines. The city designated 5/3 Commons, located on the corner of Main Street and Grand Avenue, as a city park in spring 2017 and has placed a beer garden within the area during its special downtown events since then.
The city’s inaugural Bluegrass and Brew festival, held in August 2017, was the first event held in Fairborn to allow “cold ones.” The city has hosted multiple events since then that have allowed alcohol to be consumed within the beer garden.
The FORA has an implementation date of Thursday, Aug. 1.