Mount Dora considers allowing open containers downtown

The Mount Dora City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to continue discussions about allowing open containers in downtown.

The ordinance would set up an entertainment district throughout Mount Dora’s downtown area where people could openly carry and drink alcoholic beverages they purchase at restaurants and bars there. City staff cited the success of similar ordinances in Tavares and Eustis.

The current draft of the plan would set very clear boundaries for the open containers and would likely only allow drinks to be carried between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, and only in plastic cups. The council is also looking at options for things like branded cups to make sure the drinks were bought in the district, additional staff to help with clean-up, and possibly even an additional police officer to oversee safety.

A lot of business owners in the area seemed excited by the prospect Tuesday.

"Yeah, I do like the idea of open container. I think it'll draw a different demographic of people, I think it'll greatly help our festivals that we have here in town,” said Kaitlyn Zill, owner of “Every Nook and Cranny”. 

"I think it's a great idea. I think it'll bring more business downtown,” said Todd Voss who helps people get around downtown in his modified golf cart. "Because I'll tell ya, at night, 7, 8 o'clock, place gets dead."

However, there are still a lot of concerns.  Of the few speakers at City Council Tuesday, some expressed concern over the need for such a district in Mount Dora. Some Council members even worried about the image open containers would bring to the city.

Ultimately, the council wanted more time to talk to downtown business owners and residents in the area about their thoughts on the ordinance.

They will revisit the matter at their August 28 meeting.