The promise of the Revitalization District


By Mike Barhorst - Contributing columnist



A few years ago, the Ohio General Assembly adopted legislation that provides the opportunity for a community to establish a revitalization district. As Sidney’s City Council continues to focus on ways to encourage development throughout the city including the downtown, we have teamed with Sidney Alive and asked them to help spearhead some of those efforts.

One advantage of a revitalization district is that is allows additional liquor permits to be issued within the district. As I bring potential developers on tours of the community and in particular, our beautiful downtown, those who would like to establish restaurants note the lack of available liquor licenses as being a major barrier to opening a new restaurant in Sidney.

The number of available liquor licenses is established by the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control. That number is based on a community’s population. Based on our population, Sidney is allocated eleven D-1 and 11 D-2 licenses.

Typically a restaurant will have both a D-1 (beer) and a D-2 (wine and mixed drinks) license. Those licenses allow for the consumption of beer, wine and mixed drinks on the premises until a specific hour.

Inasmuch as these are the most popular licenses, some of our available 11 licenses in each category are owned (with the owner paying the annual fee to the state) but not used. In some cases, it may be to prevent competition. In others, it may be their intent to “sell” the license to someone who really wants a license for a highly inflated price.

Recently, a downtown property owner submitted a request to establish a revitalization district in the downtown. I subsequently recommended that council approve the request.

Generally speaking, the proposed district is bounded by the railroad tracks crossing state Route 47 on the east, South Street to the south, the Great Miami River on the east and Canal Street to the north. Those wishing to view the application and the boundary map should visit the news and events page of our website at www.sidneyoh.com.

The language contained in the Ohio Revised Code details the process: “An application relating to an area located in a municipal corporation shall be addressed and submitted to the mayor of the municipal corporation in which the area described in the application is located. The mayor, within 30 days after receiving the application, shall submit the application with the mayor’s recommendation to the legislative authority of the municipal corporation.

“Within 30 days after it receives the application and the mayor’s recommendations relating to the application, the legislative authority of the municipal corporation, by notice published once a week for two consecutive weeks in one newspaper of general circulation in the municipal corporation or as provided in section 7.16 of the Revised Code, shall notify the public that the application is on file in the office of the clerk of the municipal corporation and is available for inspection by the public during regular business hours. The notice shall also indicate the date and time of any public hearing by the municipal legislative authority on the application.”

“Within 75 days after the date the application is filed with the mayor of a municipal corporation, the legislative authority of the municipal corporation by ordinance or resolution shall approve or disapprove the application based on whether the proposed revitalization district does or will substantially contribute to entertainment, retail, educational, sporting, social, cultural, or arts opportunities for the community. The community considered shall at a minimum include the municipal corporation in which the community is located. Any approval of an application shall be by an affirmative majority vote of the legislative authority. Not more than one revitalization district shall be designated within the municipal corporation.”

“If the municipal legislative authority disapproves the application, the applicant may make changes in the application to secure its approval by the legislative authority. Any area approved by the legislative authority constitutes a revitalization district, and a local option election may be conducted in the district, as a type of community facility, under section 4301.356 of the Revised Code.”

“All or part of an area designated as a revitalization district may lose this designation as provided in this division. The legislative authority of a municipal corporation in which a revitalization district is located, after giving notice of its proposed action by publication once a week for two consecutive weeks in one newspaper of general circulation in the municipal corporation or township or as provided in section 7.16 of the Revised Code, may determine by ordinance or resolution in the case of the legislative authority of a municipal corporation, that all or part of the area fails to meet the standards described in this section for designation of an area as a revitalization district. If the legislative authority so determines, the area designated in the ordinance or resolution no longer constitutes a revitalization district.”

Sidney’s proposed revitalization district will provide one license per every five acres within the district boundary, with a maximum of 15 licenses. These special liquor licenses stay within the district boundaries and are limited to restaurants that have 75 percent of their total gross receipts from food sales. In addition, the licenses will only be available to those properties in the district that are zoned to allow the sale of alcohol.

The licenses will be issued by the Division of Liquor Control in a manner similar to its current process for other liquor licenses. If an establishment ceases doing business, the owner cannot retain the license, but it is returned to the State of Ohio so that it can be reissued to another business.

As directed in the Ohio Revised Code, City Council, a notice was published for two consecutive weeks in the Sidney Daily News. In keeping with the timeline established in the Ohio Revised Code, Council considered legislation, and approved the district during its Sept. 10, 2018, regular meeting.

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By Mike Barhorst

Contributing columnist

The writer is the mayor of Sidney.

The writer is the mayor of Sidney.