Winona Lake Looks To Establish A DORA In The Village

November 21, 2023 at 8:59 p.m.
Winona Lake town attorney Adam Turner explains a point in the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) ordinance to the town council Tuesday night. To his right is Councilman Barry Andrew, and to his left is Clerk-Treasurer Heather James. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
Winona Lake town attorney Adam Turner explains a point in the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) ordinance to the town council Tuesday night. To his right is Councilman Barry Andrew, and to his left is Clerk-Treasurer Heather James. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union

By DAVID L. SLONE Managing Editor

WINONA LAKE - A Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) is one step closer to becoming a reality in Winona Lake after the town council approved an ordinance on first reading Tuesday to establish one.
The council still needs to approve the ordinance on second reading at its December meeting.
Council President Rick Swaim said, “The ordinance establishes a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area that allows municipalities after July 1 to designate an area to serve alcohol and then walk outside in a designated area with certain restrictions.”
Town attorney Adam Turner advised the council they could have a passing on first reading for the ordinance Tuesday, if they would like, and still have some additional amendments before the second reading as long as the majority of the ordinance doesn’t change.
Swaim asked Town Marshal Joe Hawn about law enforcement concerns with people carrying alcohol and being outside in a designated area.
Hawn said he and The Village at Winona Managing Director Nick Hauck talked about the DORA and Hawn didn’t feel like there was going to be an issue with it. Hawn asked, if there is an issue, could the DORA be readdressed or rescinded?
Turner said there is a revocation provision so that the council could revoke the DORA.
“This is new. It just came about July 1. It’s just an option. I think it’s very common in other states,” Turner said, including lake towns in Michigan. “So the idea of this is, this all goes through the alcohol commission and they are the ones that grant ... this area a DORA.”
He said the first step in the process is for the town or city council to give the DORA its blessing.
“It still goes through the commission. They still make the ultimate call ... they’re still in charge of all the enforcement, of all the license holders and all those kind of things. That’s not this council’s responsibility or anything like that. That is still with the commission,” Turner explained.
What the statute allows though is for the town council to put the parameters on the DORA that they would like, such as the geography of it, time, etc. Turner said there is state statute restricting the amount and size of containers, which are included in the ordinance as they are listed by state statute.
A copy of the ordinance states that all designated permittees and vendors may allow a person to exit the designated permittee’s or vendor’s licensed premises with not more than two open containers of an alcoholic beverage at a time. The contents of an open container may not exceed more than 16 ounces of beer or flavor malt beverage; not more than 12 ounces of wine, cider or hard seltzer; and a mixed drink of not more than 10 ounces containing not more than 2 ounces of liquor.
“So there’s a lot of freedom from the town’s perspective as if whether or not this is something that the council would approve. Obviously, from our local standpoint, this is something that should be done well in conjunction with The Village. There are no other options in our little town,” Turner said.
He said the council could require that a licensed holder be required to serve alcohol in designated cups for the DORA, but that provision was not in the ordinance. Another thing that Turner said he did put in the ordinance that was optional was that all drinks had to be served in plastic containers and not glass.
Hawn asked, if someone walks out of The Village with an open container, would it just be a citation through the town? Turner said a citation, just an infraction, but he could look further into open container laws.
Councilman Barry Andrew asked Town Manager Craig Allebach to enlighten the council on how the DORA all came about to Winona Lake.
Allebach responded, “I think there’s been a push on the state level for different communities to allow what other states allow already in these outdoor areas where they walk. I know Michigan is really big on it, and other states are, too.”
He said at Port Winona right now, customers have to be within a fenced area, but the ordinance would take away that fenced area. Down at The Village, Allebach said they have certain events where customers go from place to place - like Whine About the Winter - that the DORA might be beneficial for them.
Allebach said the town’s been working with Hauck very closely, and when it was very close that the state law might pass to allow DORAs, Allebach said The Village was right on it as were other communities.
“I think a lot of it has to do with, really, economic development, quite frankly, and certainly, especially, more amusement areas,” Allebach said, citing downtown Warsaw as an example because it has several bars downtown, a riverfront district and the lake area. “It’s just another way of driving traffic to your restaurants and special events.”
Hauck, via Zoom, said The Village was “super excited” about the DORA. “One thing for the public to know is that the DORA district we are talking about establishing right now is on private property, so none of it -with the exception of Administration Street and Auditorium Street - none of this would actually go into public property. It would all be private property, which is The Village at Winona,” he said.
With so many events in The Village and Winona Lake in the summer, Hauck said the DORA would be beneficial for them and the restaurants to have it.
The copy of the ordinance lists Port Winona Wine & Market, Light Rail Café, Cerulean Restaurant and Boathouse Restaurant as retailer permittees who have submitted a completed application to the town to participate in the area and that the town finds that each of the permittees is an appropriate designated permittee for a refreshment area designation from the Indiana Alcohol Commission.
After further discussion, Andrew made a motion to approve the ordinance on first reading, Councilwoman Ashley McGinnis seconded it and the ordinance passed 5-0 on first reading.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a resolution to transfer $250,000 from the rainy day fund to the Winona Lake donations fund. Right now, according to Clerk-Treasurer Heather James, that donation account is in the negative and the town can’t end the calendar year in the negative so the transfer will take care of that.
Next month, James said there will be appropriations that the council will need to make as well.
• Approved an operations agreement with Shawnanigans LLC for the ice rink concessions. The agreement is for one year - from Nov. 22, 2023, to Nov. 30, 2024, unless terminated by the town, with the option to continue the agreement for two additional years.
When an operations agreement for the ice rink itself came up, no council member made any motion to approve an agreement and Swaim said they would revisit that at another time.
McGinnis later made a motion to publicly post for proposals for service operations or manage operations, perhaps both, for the ice rink. She and Andrew voted for the motion, while Councilmen Austin Reynolds and Jim Lancaster voted against it. Swaim then voted for the motion to break the tie.
Allebach later said the request for proposals will be posted at the town hall, in the newspaper and online.
• Approved a one-year extension on the town’s current recycling contract. Allebach said there will be an increase in the price, but not to the residents this year because there’s “too much going on to try to do any increases, we didn’t anticipate any increases.” There may be increases to residents’ bills in 2025. Turner said under the old contract, there was an escalation in prices each year and the extension was just a continuation of that.
• Heard from Park Director Holly Hummitch that the “North Pole Mailbox,” just outside the town hall’s front doors, is taking letters to Santa through Dec. 4. Kids can write letters to Santa and then he will write letters back to them after a couple weeks.
• Heard that KringleFest will take place at the Winona Heritage Room Dec. 2 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Hummitch added that from 12 to 12:30 p.m. there will be a sensory-friendly Santa experience.
KringleFest will include crafts, Santa, entertainment, face painting, live reindeer and train rides.
• Heard this year’s Christmas offering for Winona Lake’s Christmas in the Village is titled “Voices, Brass and Bells” and will be at the Winona Heritage Room at 4 p.m. Dec. 9 and 4 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10.

WINONA LAKE - A Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) is one step closer to becoming a reality in Winona Lake after the town council approved an ordinance on first reading Tuesday to establish one.
The council still needs to approve the ordinance on second reading at its December meeting.
Council President Rick Swaim said, “The ordinance establishes a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area that allows municipalities after July 1 to designate an area to serve alcohol and then walk outside in a designated area with certain restrictions.”
Town attorney Adam Turner advised the council they could have a passing on first reading for the ordinance Tuesday, if they would like, and still have some additional amendments before the second reading as long as the majority of the ordinance doesn’t change.
Swaim asked Town Marshal Joe Hawn about law enforcement concerns with people carrying alcohol and being outside in a designated area.
Hawn said he and The Village at Winona Managing Director Nick Hauck talked about the DORA and Hawn didn’t feel like there was going to be an issue with it. Hawn asked, if there is an issue, could the DORA be readdressed or rescinded?
Turner said there is a revocation provision so that the council could revoke the DORA.
“This is new. It just came about July 1. It’s just an option. I think it’s very common in other states,” Turner said, including lake towns in Michigan. “So the idea of this is, this all goes through the alcohol commission and they are the ones that grant ... this area a DORA.”
He said the first step in the process is for the town or city council to give the DORA its blessing.
“It still goes through the commission. They still make the ultimate call ... they’re still in charge of all the enforcement, of all the license holders and all those kind of things. That’s not this council’s responsibility or anything like that. That is still with the commission,” Turner explained.
What the statute allows though is for the town council to put the parameters on the DORA that they would like, such as the geography of it, time, etc. Turner said there is state statute restricting the amount and size of containers, which are included in the ordinance as they are listed by state statute.
A copy of the ordinance states that all designated permittees and vendors may allow a person to exit the designated permittee’s or vendor’s licensed premises with not more than two open containers of an alcoholic beverage at a time. The contents of an open container may not exceed more than 16 ounces of beer or flavor malt beverage; not more than 12 ounces of wine, cider or hard seltzer; and a mixed drink of not more than 10 ounces containing not more than 2 ounces of liquor.
“So there’s a lot of freedom from the town’s perspective as if whether or not this is something that the council would approve. Obviously, from our local standpoint, this is something that should be done well in conjunction with The Village. There are no other options in our little town,” Turner said.
He said the council could require that a licensed holder be required to serve alcohol in designated cups for the DORA, but that provision was not in the ordinance. Another thing that Turner said he did put in the ordinance that was optional was that all drinks had to be served in plastic containers and not glass.
Hawn asked, if someone walks out of The Village with an open container, would it just be a citation through the town? Turner said a citation, just an infraction, but he could look further into open container laws.
Councilman Barry Andrew asked Town Manager Craig Allebach to enlighten the council on how the DORA all came about to Winona Lake.
Allebach responded, “I think there’s been a push on the state level for different communities to allow what other states allow already in these outdoor areas where they walk. I know Michigan is really big on it, and other states are, too.”
He said at Port Winona right now, customers have to be within a fenced area, but the ordinance would take away that fenced area. Down at The Village, Allebach said they have certain events where customers go from place to place - like Whine About the Winter - that the DORA might be beneficial for them.
Allebach said the town’s been working with Hauck very closely, and when it was very close that the state law might pass to allow DORAs, Allebach said The Village was right on it as were other communities.
“I think a lot of it has to do with, really, economic development, quite frankly, and certainly, especially, more amusement areas,” Allebach said, citing downtown Warsaw as an example because it has several bars downtown, a riverfront district and the lake area. “It’s just another way of driving traffic to your restaurants and special events.”
Hauck, via Zoom, said The Village was “super excited” about the DORA. “One thing for the public to know is that the DORA district we are talking about establishing right now is on private property, so none of it -with the exception of Administration Street and Auditorium Street - none of this would actually go into public property. It would all be private property, which is The Village at Winona,” he said.
With so many events in The Village and Winona Lake in the summer, Hauck said the DORA would be beneficial for them and the restaurants to have it.
The copy of the ordinance lists Port Winona Wine & Market, Light Rail Café, Cerulean Restaurant and Boathouse Restaurant as retailer permittees who have submitted a completed application to the town to participate in the area and that the town finds that each of the permittees is an appropriate designated permittee for a refreshment area designation from the Indiana Alcohol Commission.
After further discussion, Andrew made a motion to approve the ordinance on first reading, Councilwoman Ashley McGinnis seconded it and the ordinance passed 5-0 on first reading.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a resolution to transfer $250,000 from the rainy day fund to the Winona Lake donations fund. Right now, according to Clerk-Treasurer Heather James, that donation account is in the negative and the town can’t end the calendar year in the negative so the transfer will take care of that.
Next month, James said there will be appropriations that the council will need to make as well.
• Approved an operations agreement with Shawnanigans LLC for the ice rink concessions. The agreement is for one year - from Nov. 22, 2023, to Nov. 30, 2024, unless terminated by the town, with the option to continue the agreement for two additional years.
When an operations agreement for the ice rink itself came up, no council member made any motion to approve an agreement and Swaim said they would revisit that at another time.
McGinnis later made a motion to publicly post for proposals for service operations or manage operations, perhaps both, for the ice rink. She and Andrew voted for the motion, while Councilmen Austin Reynolds and Jim Lancaster voted against it. Swaim then voted for the motion to break the tie.
Allebach later said the request for proposals will be posted at the town hall, in the newspaper and online.
• Approved a one-year extension on the town’s current recycling contract. Allebach said there will be an increase in the price, but not to the residents this year because there’s “too much going on to try to do any increases, we didn’t anticipate any increases.” There may be increases to residents’ bills in 2025. Turner said under the old contract, there was an escalation in prices each year and the extension was just a continuation of that.
• Heard from Park Director Holly Hummitch that the “North Pole Mailbox,” just outside the town hall’s front doors, is taking letters to Santa through Dec. 4. Kids can write letters to Santa and then he will write letters back to them after a couple weeks.
• Heard that KringleFest will take place at the Winona Heritage Room Dec. 2 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Hummitch added that from 12 to 12:30 p.m. there will be a sensory-friendly Santa experience.
KringleFest will include crafts, Santa, entertainment, face painting, live reindeer and train rides.
• Heard this year’s Christmas offering for Winona Lake’s Christmas in the Village is titled “Voices, Brass and Bells” and will be at the Winona Heritage Room at 4 p.m. Dec. 9 and 4 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10.

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