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Officials detail proposed DORA

In World
February 01, 2024

Feb. 1—Imagine visiting any bar and restaurant downtown, ordering a beer and taking that beer with you as you walk to Kokomo Municipal Stadium for a Kokomo Jackrabbits game.

Under current city law, that is illegal. But it may soon not be.

The city of Kokomo is considering establishing a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA, that encompasses its downtown area and would allow people to purchase alcoholic beverages from within the DORA and carry and drink them outside as long as they are within the DORA boundaries.

The General Assembly last year passed legislation allowing for municipalities to establish a DORA. Since then, a couple of Hoosier cities, such as Yorktown and Shelbyville, have established a DORA, with others in the process.

The city believes the DORA will promote “economic development” in the downtown area by giving local businesses more freedom in how they can serve alcohol and, thus, hopefully attract more people to the downtown area.

“People will be able to come around, buy a drink from local businesses, do their shopping, have some fun and probably feel pretty good doing it,” City Attorney TJ Rethlake said.

An ordinance establishing the DORA is expected to be introduced and come before the Kokomo City Council this spring, Rethlake told the Tribune. The ordinance will first go in front of the Kokomo Plan Commission, then the City Council and, if approved by the Council, would need final approval by Indiana’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission before being formally established.

But before that, the city needs to finalize the details of the DORA.

To help with that, the city held an informational and Q&A session Tuesday at City Hall with several downtown business owners in attendance to gauge feedback and answer questions.

Here’s the preliminary information about the proposed DORA:

Boundaries

The preliminary boundaries for the DORA, according to a map provided by the city, are to the north to Sun King Brewery, Oscar’s Pizza and other Buckeye Street businesses and new commercial space being built at 208 W. Jefferson St.; to Kokomo Municipal Stadium, the riverwalk concert venue and The Foxes Trail to the south and southeast; and then up through the middle of downtown.

Per state law, signs along the DORA boundaries alerting people that they are entering or exiting the DORA would be installed.

Up in the air is whether or not Foster Park will be included in the DORA.

Rethlake said the city doesn’t want to have a lot of people drinking alcohol in the public park during the daytime, but the park is also home to many summer events, such as the Kokomo Summer Concert Series, where Rethlake said the city would like to allow vendors to serve alcoholic beverages.

Currently, city ordinance only allows for the sale and consumption in Foster Park in a designated and closed off area away from the main seating area and concert stage.

Rethlake said the city will reach out to the ATC in the future to see if it’s possible to put Foster Park in the DORA only on certain days and times.

HOURS

The proposed hours for the DORA is 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., though the hours are subject to change. The DORA would be operational 365 days a year.

Is participation mandatory?

Participation in the DORA is not mandatory. Businesses will be able to opt-in and opt-out. If a business initially opts-in but later decides it wants to opt-out, it can do that and vice-versa.

Businesses in the DORA that wish to participate will have to apply to become a designated permittee.

A designated permittee is a business that has a permanent liquor license and operates a retail establishment in the DORA.

Only businesses with a liquor license, though, may serve alcohol to be consumed in the DORA.

Individuals or businesses with a catering license or a temporary alcohol permit can apply through the ATC to be vendors and will only be able to sell alcohol during special events in the DORA.

The city will require posting of signs by businesses that are participating in the DORA so a person will know whether they can enter the business with an open container of alcohol. Non-participating business owners will have the option to place a sign indicating whether or not an open container of alcohol is allowed.

DORA cups

Open container alcohol that may be consumed in the DORA must be in non-breakable containers such as plastic bottles, plastic cups, cans or paper cups and include a DORA logo on them. Businesses will have to purchase the cups from their own chosen manufacturer; the logo will be provided by the city.

People in the DORA are only allowed to leave a designated permittee’s business with no more than two open alcoholic beverages.

Cups for beer or flavored malt beverages are capped at 16 ounces; wine, cider or premixed cocktails to 12 ounces; and liquor or a liquor-based cocktail up to two ounces of liquor and 10 ounces of chaser.

Alcohol purchased outside the DORA may not be consumed outside in public areas of the DORA.

Additional questions or information

If you have any additional questions or want more information, you can visit cityofkokomo.org/residents/_dora.php or email or call the city’s Development Department at [email protected] and 765-456-7375.

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich.

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