DANVILLE, Va. – Mardi Gras in the River City? Not quite, but the idea is a first of its kind in Virginia.
People living in Danville may soon be able to take their alcoholic beverages on the go. City leaders are getting ready to vote on a proposal that would allow drinking in public in downtown areas.
“For many years our citizens, as the River District has grown, have wanted to be able to have drinks, walk around and go to different places like you see in cities in other states,” Councilman Lee Vogler says.
Vogler says it’s something they’ve been eyeing since the General Assembly gave Virginia the green light for designated outdoor refreshment areas in July.
This means people can drink alcohol in public and take it into other stores and restaurants.
“We’re trying to get a critical mass of retailers and restaurants downtown,” Planning Director Doug Plachcinski says. “Just giving one more option, one more injection of buzz to get things going.”
Plachcinski says they had to set a boundary. Rather than come up with something new, they decided to use one people were familiar with–the River District.
“All entries and exits to the entire district will be marked with signs,” Assistant City Attorney Ryan Dodson says. “We will be encouraging pick-up and drop-off locations for rideshare platforms to discourage drunk driving.”
Dodson says people would be allowed to drink in public between 8 a.m. and midnight each day. Drinks can only be taken outside if they are in a plastic cup with the name or logo of the place it was purchased.
All business owners can choose if they want to participate.
“This doesn’t amend any general drinking rules,” Dodson says. “You still can’t be drunk in public. You still can’t be operating a motor vehicle with an open container. You still can’t drive drunk.”
City leaders hope this will make Danville a destination for insiders and outsiders. They will vote on the idea, which is expected to pass, Tuesday.
They then will have to get an ABC license, which can take about 90 days before the proposal goes into effect in the River District.