Danville City Council GXX

Mardi Gras in Danville?  Not quite, but supporters of a new policy proposal say it would make the city more attractive to young professionals while enticing development in the city’s River District.

Danville leaders are considering a plan to establish what’s called a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area. (DORA)  These would be permanent open-air areas where alcoholic beverages can be consumed in public, and taken into other stores and restaurants. The owners of establishments would still have the right to prevent alcohol from being brought on their premises.

City Attorney Clarke Whitfield told Danville City Council how it would work. “Say you order a beer at one of the ABC-licensed dealers we have in the River District. You would be allowed within the River District to take that beer with you out of the restaurant or lounge.”

Any alcoholic beverage taken outside has to be in a paper or plastic cup, and it must include the name or logo of the place it was purchased.

Whitfield says this is different from festival permits where alcohol can be consumed within a fenced area as is the case with a beer garden. He says the River District would be a natural fit. “You can be out on the sidewalks and the plaza, enjoying the other amenities we have in that area.” Whitfield said.  “It’s something we’ve never been allowed before in Virginia.”

Councilman Lee Vogler has been pushing the issue since the General Assembly passed the law a year ago. “I think as we have more tourists coming into the city in the next few years this is only going to grow our ability to attract people,” Vogler said. “Greensboro just did this, calling it a ‘social district’.  So let’s do it and do it better.”

Under the new state law each city can have up to three Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas. Whitfield says the downtown park that will be built next to the White Mill Complex is another area the city can explore for a possible DORA.

Danville City Council is expected to vote on the idea in April.

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