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Bipartisan outdoor refreshment district bill becomes law

Kasich signs Driehaus-Blessing effort that allows open container districts in certain cities
April 30, 2015
Democrat Newsroom

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 47 today, which was introduced by Reps. Denise Driehaus and Lou Blessing III.  The law will allow certain cities to create Outdoor Refreshment Districts, where the public can enjoy an alcoholic beverage outside, within a specified area of an Ohio community.

"This law will help create economic opportunity for our communities while growing local Ohio businesses. These districts will become destination spots which will create excitement and provide a critical mass of customers for the restaurants, bars and shops in the district and nearby,”  Driehaus said. 

The new law will allow cities with a population of over 35,000 to apply for Outdoor Refreshment District areas within their cities. Specifically, it will allow cities with a population between 35,000 and 50,000 to create one Outdoor Refreshment District, while cities with over 50,000 will have the opportunity to create two. After two years, cities with populations of less than 35,000 will be permitted to create a district if they meet certain requirements.

“This bill is all about economic development and bringing businesses to Ohio," said Blessing. "There is a reason the last couple of Super Bowls were in cities that temporarily lifted the ban of open containers in certain areas. We are relieving Ohio's cities from the red tape that they will encounter for the Major League Baseball All-Star game in Cincinnati and the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. This will also bring other great opportunities to Ohio as the wide variety of organizations won't have to go through all the red tape as in other states."

The law requires that before applying for permits, cities must plan to adopt public health and safety requirements for Outdoor Refreshment Districts, including the specific boundaries of the area, hours of operation and a sanitation plan that will help maintain the appearance and public health of the area.

Because of an emergency clause included in the bill, it will go into effect immediately, making Outdoor Refreshment Districts available to cities in time for large summer events, like the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Cincinnati.