- Associated Press - Monday, January 23, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Omaha residents would be able to drink alcohol outdoors in some parts of the city under a proposed ordinance to create entertainment districts.

The City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday to create districts where several eateries would open into a common area for dining and drinking, The Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/2j53LSs ) reports.

Assistant City Attorney William Acosta-Trejo says that the project will be similar to Lincoln’s Railyard, where several eateries open into a common area for dining and drinking.

If the ordinance is approved, entertainment districts would have to be near an arena or entertainment venue. The areas would also be required to operate under one promotional organization or have a common owner. The City Council would be in charge of granting or revoking two-year licenses for the districts.

Representatives of Aksarben Village and the Capitol District say their areas will apply to become entertainment districts if the proposed ordinance passes.

Chris Wagner with Project Extra Mile, a group that aims to reduce harms related to drinking, says entertainment districts could lead to underage and binge drinking.

“I think it’s important to not only recognize that such a development could have economic benefits, but could have social consequences and economic consequences,” said Wagner, the group’s policy and research coordinator.

Nebraska Liquor Control Commission chairman Bob Batt says the possibility of binge drinking is not concerning because the districts won’t promote it.

“I think it’s a neat addition for Omaha,” he said, “and as long as they run it right, I don’t foresee any problems.”

Aksarben Village’s developer said he would like to see the council eventually expand the ordinance so that entertainment districts could be created in areas not near arenas.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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