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Legislation allowing an alcohol consumption option in downtown Defiance was approved by city council Tuesday night.

A related ordinance was the only one of five passed by a council on a night when two members were absent, thus preventing quick passage of the remaining four.

Among the foursome let lie was legislation authorizing the installation of a baby box at the city fire department for newborn infants (see related story).

Council unanimously approved (5-0) the ordinance establishing a designated outdoor refreshment area (DORA) following a third and final reading.

The measure allows alcoholic beverages to be served in special cups supplied by downtown businesses and consumed in a designated public area totaling 96.55 acres.

The area has an irregular shape, but generally runs between the Maumee River on the north and Don Miller Drive on the south, and between the Auglaize River and Jackson Avenue.

To the west, the southern limit would be bounded by Fifth Street and to the east, Third Street.

Before the vote, resident Ron Posey, 1917 Darbyshire Drive, urged council to turn down the proposal. He said the city rejected a request for a medicinal marijuana facility in the past, so it should act accordingly where the public serving of alcoholic beverages is concerned.

But no council members objected.

Ward I Councilman Pete Lundberg said he had visited DORAs in Dayton and Toledo, and found them a good experience.

“I feel it is very effective in improving the overall feeling in a community,” he said.

And Defiance Development and Visitors Bureau Director Kirstie Mack said she has visited a district in Napoleon, which is set up like Defiance’s. She suggested that the DORA could encourage college students to enjoy the downtown by creating “a great environment for them.”

In response to a question posed by Ward 4 Councilman Chris Engel, Mack explained that the DORA initially will be set up for five years, but could be disbanded if things don’t go well.

Also Tuesday, council let lie an emergency ordinance allowing a contract with Mannik & Smith Group, Maumee, to design a repair to deal with Maumee River bank erosion near the water treatment plant on Baltimore Road. The engineering cost is $43,035.

A short-term repair will be needed to fix about 50 feet of embankment that “slid down the slope into the Maumee River at the confluence of the Tiffin River, jeopardizing the plant and water mains,” according to the ordinance.

City finance director John Lehner said a raw water line into the plant “is not imminently threatened,” but “we need to head this situation off.” He explained that a short-term fix will be undertaken with additional construction cost.

Mannik & Smith Group also will begin working on a long-term fix for the future — to be undertaken in, perhaps, two to four years — with a potential “hefty construction cost,” according to Lehner.

The emergency clause means that the ordinance — when passed — will become law upon the mayor’s signature rather than after the regular 30-day waiting period.

In other legislative business Tuesday, council let lie two separate emergency ordinances following first readings that concern funding for upcoming water and wastewater projects.

The first would authorize application to the Ohio Water Pollution Control Loan Fund to help with a sanitary/storm sewer separation project at Ralston Avenue and Elbert Street, and Hilton and Carter avenues.

City administrator Jeff Leonard explained that the sanitary sewer will be lined, while new storm sewers will be constructed. The purpose, he noted, is to remove stormwater from the collection system (and thus keep it from being treated at the city’s wastewater plant).

The project is eligible for $1.5 million in funding, according to the ordinance.

The second ordinance would allow application to the Ohio Water Pollution Control Loan Fund to assist the installation of ultraviolet disinfection improvements at the city wastewater plant on Ohio 281.

The upgrade would replace the use of chlorine as a disinfection agent at the plant, a method that is expensive and dangerous, according to Leonard.

The project is eligible for $3.5 million in funding, the ordinance noted.

Lehner said he would have to clarify for council the nature of the loans. Perhaps, only one is a 0-interest loan, he indicated.

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