Share This Page

Ohio bill would allow open-container areas in cities

| Friday, April 26, 2013, 8:54 p.m.

CINCINNATI — In the vein of the Las Vegas Strip and the streets of New Orleans, two Ohio lawmakers want the state's biggest cities to have entertainment districts where revelers can take their alcoholic drinks outdoors.

A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate on Thursday by Sen. Eric Kearney proposes to allow cities with more than 50,000 residents to set up designated areas exempt from Ohio's state law against open containers.

That could mean open containers in Cincinnati's popular Over-the-Rhine historic neighborhood, Cleveland's struggling waterfront area known as The Flats, the Arena District in Columbus and the area around downtown Toledo's Mud Hens stadium.

But 11 other Ohio cities would be able to form such open-container districts under the bill, including Akron, Canton, Parma, Youngstown, Dayton, Hamilton and Springfield, among others.

If it gains enough support, the bill could pass in the summer, but more likely in the fall, and would go into effect by year's end.

“This would allow a festival atmosphere, an open atmosphere, much like the one on Bourbon Street in New Orleans and Beale Street in Memphis,” Kearney said on Friday.

Kearney, a Cincinnati Democrat, said he got the idea for the bill from his staffers, who are largely in their 20s.

The bill stipulates that alcohol must be bought within a given district — not brought from the outside — and limits the size of the districts to a squared half-mile.

Kearney said cities would not be required to allow open containers anywhere, but the bill gives them the freedom to do so and the authority to decide where such districts could go.

The bill would allow cities with populations of 50,000 to 150,000 people, such as Dayton and Canton, to form one such district. Cities of 150,000 to 300,000 people — like Cincinnati, Toledo and Akron — could establish two. The only two cities with more than 300,000 people, Columbus and Cleveland, could have three.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory said he needs to learn more about the bill, but that it sounds like a great idea, especially if car traffic is reduced or eliminated in such districts at certain times.

“It could really help us to create even more energy in some areas of the city,” Mallory said.

He said the idea could work at a new mixed-use development between the Reds and Bengals stadiums along the Ohio River known as The Banks and in the Over-the-Rhine historic neighborhood just north of downtown Cincinnati, which was the site of the city's race riots in 2001 but is in the middle of a major transformation into a popular restaurant and bar scene.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.