Business owners in the River District were made aware on Monday of new rules regarding public drinking in the area.
Danville Assistant City Attorney Ryan Dodson spoke with the River District Association. Earlier this month, Danville City Council approved the creation of a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA).
Basically, Dodson says the designation means someone can’t be cited for drinking in public within DORA boundaries. But there are many limits. “It’s not like anyone can drink anything. It must be liquor purchased in the River District from an ABC licensed business,” Dodson said. “It must be in a disposable cup, 16 ounces or less, bearing the logo of a company that has an ABC license in the district.”
Dodson says each business in the district can decide whether or not they will allow customers to bring alcohol into their stores. “You can choose to allow people to bring alcoholic beverages into your store, but nothing about it creates the right for someone to bring into your business anything you don’t want,” Dodson explained.
DORA covers 453 properties on 159 acres of land in the River District, extending as far west as the White Mill. It will also include the new downtown park being developed next to Memorial Drive. It does not include the library and court and jail areas. The ordinance does not allow outdoor drinking between midnight and 8 a.m. anywhere in the district.
“There are going to be signs posted at the district boundaries to inform everyone. All other regulations regarding public drunkenness and disorderly conduct still apply,” Dodson said.
The Danville Development Council will hold the ABC license that authorizes the designated outdoor refreshment area. This license must be renewed annually.
Under state law, each locality in Virginia can have up to three designated outdoor refreshment areas. City officials have identified parts of North Main Street and areas surrounding Caesar’s Virginia Casino as other areas the city can explore for future DORAs.
Dodson says they hope to get final state approval for DORA in a few weeks.