COMMUNITY ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT
Creating Jobs and Strengthening Neighborhoods
WHAT IS A COMMUNITY ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT (CED)?
In 2005, the state of Ohio passed legislation intended to revitalize communities and business districts. The legislation allowed for the creation of community entertainment districts (CED). When a CED is established, it creates a new pool of liquor licenses that can only be issued within the district. These licenses are called D5-J Licenses.
HOW ARE LIQUOR LICENSES APPORTIONED IN OHIO?
Under Ohio law, liquor licenses are normally apportioned on the basis of population. Each City is given one full liquor license for every 2,000 residents in the City. Cincinnati, with a population of 296,943 residents has 148 full licenses; however, they are not distributed equally around the City. Downtown (Zip Code 45202) has 55 or over 1/3rd of all available licenses. Additionally the City keeps losing population in each census and with the loss of population, the number of available licenses drops as well. This has caused licenses to greatly increase in cost. A new restaurant may have to spend $30,000.00 to acquire a new liquor license.
WHAT IS A D5-J LIQUOR LICENSE?
A D5-J license is a full liquor (beer, wine, spirits) license. The holder of a D5-J license must obtain a food service license and pass all necessary code inspections at the location of However a D5-J must be located within a CED and cannot be transferred outside the district.
DOES A CED DESIGNATION ALLOW FOR OPEN CONTAINERS?
No. Open containers are not allowed under state law. A CED Designation has no effect on the open container law. There is currently a bill that would allow open containers pending in the state legislature, but even if that bill passes, it would not apply to CEDs. The bill would allow cities to create two open container districts which Cincinnati would like put at the Banks and Downtown/OTR. CEDs would be unaffected.
HOW MUCH DOES A D5-J LIQUOR LICENSE COST?
The filing fee for a D5-J liquor license is $100, and the license costs $2,344 annually. Sunday sales (if permitted in the precinct) are an additional $500 per year.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A FOOD SERVICE LICENSE?
A holder of a D5-J must serve hot food and obtain at least a Level 2 Food Service License. Depending on the quantity and type of food sold, a Level 3 or higher license may be required. The minimum requirements for a Level 2 Food Service license are: a hand-washing facility, three tub sink or dishwashing facility, mop sink, waste disposal facilities, smooth easily cleanable surfaces for preparation and service, hot water, commercial microwave or oven, commercial refrigeration/freezer.
DOES A CED DESIGNATION CHANGE THE RULES ON OUTDOOR PATIOS FOR RESTAURANTS?
No. If a restaurant is in a CED and wants to have an outdoor patio, they must go through all of the normal requirements that any other applicant would have to go through to have an outdoor patio. The CED does not change these requirements.
DOES A CED DESIGNATION CHANGE ZONING REQUIREMENTS?
No. Zoning trumps a CED Designation. The CED in Over-the-Rhine includes areas zoned residential; however, no restaurants can open in the residential areas where they are prohibited by zoning. If an area is currently not zoned for commercial activity, a CED Designation does not change the allowed uses.
DOES A CED DESIGNATION HAVE ANY OTHER EFFECTS ASIDE FROM THE NEW LICENSES?
No. All a CED does is create a pool of new restaurant licenses within a specific district. These licenses are sold by the State of Ohio at face value (on the secondary market, licenses are selling at 10-12x face value). CEDs can help small business get started and expand their hours.
DOES A CED APPLICANT GET TO CHOOSE WHO GETS THE NEW LICENSES?
No. The State of Ohio processes the applications on a first come first serve basis. The applicant must comply with all existing liquor laws of the State of Ohio and any local zoning, code and health requirmenets.
ARE THERE OTHER CEDs IN CINCINNATI?
Yes. The Banks, Over-the-Rhine, Corryville, Clifton Heights, Price Hill, Pleasant Ridge and Northside.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE EXPERIENCE WITH OTHER CEDs?
Positive. CEDs have helped these neighborhoods attract and retain new small businesses. There has not been a single establishment using a CED license that has been shut down for bad behavior.
HOW MANY LICENSES WOULD A CED CREATE?
The CED would create at least 4 and up to 15 new D-5J licenses.
CAN A CED BE AMENDED?
Yes City Council can amend a CED to expand or diminish its boundaries. City Council also has the power to repeal the CED, although no CED has ever been repealed by the City of Cincinnati.
DOES A CED DESIGNATION MAKE IT EASIER TO SHUT DOWN PROBLEM ESTABLISHMENTS?
If an establishment was in a CED and the CED is amended to remove the establishment from the CED, the establishment would be unable to renew their liquor license. This gives neighborhoods with CEDs one extra tool to combat “problem establishments”; however, no CED license holder in Cincinnati has ever had a permit revoked for misconduct.
HOW DOES THE CED APPLICTION PROCESS WORK?
An application for designation of a CED must include the following: 1) names and addresses of property owned within the proposed district; 2) a detailed map of the proposed CED; 3) a description of the establishments desired in the district; 4) a proposed timeline for the completion of development in the district; 5) evidence that the property in the district is in compliance with current zoning; 6) a certificate of acreage completed by a professional surveyor; and 7) an application fee.
The CED application is initially submitted to the Mayor who has 30 days to review it and present the application to city council. Within 30 days of receipt from the Mayor, the city council must publish notice of the potential CED in a newspaper of general circulation. Within 75 days of the completed notice by publication, city council must vote “yes” or “no” on whether to approve the CED application. In the event the council declines to designate the CED, the applicant is permitted to amend the application and resubmit a revised version of the CED application. Please note these dates are the maximum period of time for each of these steps listed; however, City Council and the Mayor may reach their decisions on these matters in less time.
DOES A CED DESIGNATION CHANGE SUNDAY SALES ELIGIBILITY OR HOURS?
No. Sunday Sales are not effected. If a precinct does not allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays, the CED Designation does not change the rules on Sunday Sales. Sunday Sales rules can only be changed by the voters of a precinct.
DOES A CED DESIGNATION CHANGE THE OBJECTION RIGHTS OF CHURCHES, SCHOOLS, ETC?
No. Any school, church or other organization with an objection right retains those rights. The CED designation does not change anyone's statutory objection rights.