Ravenna council debates entertainment district

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published:

Members of Ravenna City Council debated the merits and boundaries of an entertainment district in the city.

But officials will have to wait a few days for their answers.

READ PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Quirk in state budget permits Ravenna entertainment district

Council's Community and Economic Development committee discussed the potential legislation, which would permit more liquor licenses in the city. Mayor Joseph Bica has said the entertainment district would open the door for beer and wine sales at Guidos and Mimis, two businesses that have been on the waiting list for liquor licenses for years. It also would open the door for entertainment type businesses, such as restaurants.

READ PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Ravenna business owners say entertainment district will help

But the fact that Guidos and Mimis are in two different areas of town, separated by a residential district, raised questions about the best way to draw the boundaries.

Mayor Joseph Bica told council that the city's entertainment district would have to be at least 20 acres in size, and could be bigger. Twenty acres is about equivalent to four properties the size of the former Ravenna High School site.

Kerry Macomber, the city's economic development director, was unable to be at the meeting because of a death in her family, and Bica said he would share council's questions with her when she returned to duty.

Even if the city were to "overlay" the district over a residential area in order to get more liquor licenses, zoning still prohibits restaurants and bars in residential areas. "Dancer bars" are prohibited throughout the city, Bica said.

In addition to the downtown areas, officials talked about the S.R 14 corridor as a potential spot for new eateries, noting its proximity to Robinson Memorial Hospital and Fortis College. The former Hardees at S.R. 14 and Franklin Avenue was cited as another possibility. Some questioned whether the boundaries had to be contiguous, and whether the city would want them that way to increase the number of licenses.

But Bica said both he and the city's police department were concerned about more bars opening up in Ravenna. While there have been an inordinate amount of police calls at certain taverns in town, he said there has not been similar criminal activities at restaurants, including Emma Marie's, which has a full liquor license. Council debated legislation that could limit the addition of establishments that center around the sale of alcohol.

"We've got to at least define what we mean by a bar," Council President Fran Ricciardi said. He also said that is also something residents might be surveyed about when they attend the Ravenna Balloon A-Fair.

"It might not be a bad thing to do a little survey on," he said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

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Twitter: @DianeSmith_RC

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  • Portage County deputies, troopers to take part in 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign.....Record-Courier staff report Published: August 19, 2013 4:00AM

    The police want you to drive Sober, but yet the City of Ravenna wants more opportunities to get you to drink and drive home from the Entertainment District. Remember the slogan, Don't Drink and Drive? Just Say No?

    This is just what Ravenna needs, More places to get liquored up. Will there be an  "Undesireable Citizen Cafe and Lounge" in this entertainment district???