Bargersville officials exploring designating outdoor refreshment area

Bargersville designated an area along State Road 135 as an economic target development area and discussed designated outdoor refreshment areas at a Town Council meeting Tuesday.

Town officials have been discussing designating an outdoor refreshment area, or DORA, for a couple of months, but nothing had formally come before the town council until Tuesday’s meeting. An ordinance to officially designate an outdoor refreshment area was introduced Tuesday, but town council members said they needed more information to move forward.

A resolution and ordinance to correct a mistake in implementing a seven-year tax abatement for Miss M’s Home and Garden was also approved.

Exploring DORA

A DORA would allow individuals who are at least 21 to purchase alcoholic beverages from approved vendors and carry them outside to be consumed. To establish a DORA, a municipal legislative body must adopt an ordinance including a map of the area, boundaries, permittees and more.

The area Bargersville is considering to become a DORA is the downtown area including Main and Baldwin streets. If approved, Bargersville would be the first in Johnson County to utilize new DORA laws that went into effect in July 2023.

Under state law, a brick-and-mortar designated permit is required, meaning surrounding businesses would be required to have it in their alcohol permit.

Kris Wilson, director of parks and recreation, hopes adding a DORA will make hosting events for the town easier.

“When we have events and festivals and everything like that and especially with the [Umbarger] Plaza coming online, people would be able to grab a beverage, walk across the street, sit at the plaza area, enjoy that,” Wilson said. “And it makes it a lot easier for the regulations.”

The ordinance, coupled with state law, still has regulations and procedures such as designated times, amounts of alcohol that can be served and more, Wilson said. The town can also add its own rules and regulations as well.

Outdoor events would no longer need to be roped off with the new ordinance, she said. Other businesses with the proper license would be able to set up a temporary tent during special events as well. Businesses that want to participate in the DORA would need to get an additional permit with their liquor license.

Individuals cannot bring outside alcohol inside the DORA and consume it, Wilson said.

Council members Andrew Greenwood and Susie Qualls raised concerns that the area may create policing issues. However, Wilson said other towns with similar DORA laws have had no issues and have seen an improvement with policing.

Signs stating the rules would be required at each boundary point, Wilson said. At least six signs would be required to be placed.

The town also has the option to make rules stricter than what was proposed in the ordinance Tuesday, she said. Businesses would also have a choice to not allow outside alcohol in their stores.

Council members said they think it’s a good idea, but need to explore it further. Specifically, they would like to look into liability, adding a fee structure for businesses that want to participate, and fix language around operation times.

“I think it’s a great thing, I think it makes a lot of sense,” council member Jamie Pheifer said. “I think since it’s so new we just got a couple little I’s to dot and T’s to cross.”

Miss M’s correction

A step that was missed when granting Miss M’s Home and Garden a seven-year tax abatement last year was enacted Tuesday as well. The company, located at 4415 N State Road 135, received approval from the council to designate the area as an economic development target area.

An economic development target area is a specific geographic territory that has become undesirable or impossible for normal development and occupancy because of a lack of development or other factors that have impaired values, according to state law.

Normally, an economic revitalization area would be designated prior to construction, said Dan Cartwright, town manager. However, there was an oversight due to changes in town staffing around the same time, he said.

Miss M’s requested a tax abatement for their $1.1 million investment, according to documents the town previously approved. The amount the town gets in taxes will gradually increase until the seven-year period ends in 2030, after which the company will pay full taxes, the documents detail.

Miss M’s has been open for several months, but will host a grand opening celebration on April 19 at 9 a.m.