ENTERTAINMENT Revitalization committee debates zoning issues

Liquor licenses raise questions for the Warren entertainment district.
WARREN -- The downtown revitalization committee faces challenges as it continues work on the proposed entertainment district.
At its meeting Tuesday, the committee discussed zoning possibilities with its law adviser.
"I want to cover all the possibilities," said committee chairman Robert Holmes III.
Blanket zoning was one opportunity discussed at the meeting, but Holmes doesn't think it will be feasible.
"If we do blanket, we'll have to get rid of residential and I don't think we can do that," he said.
The proposed 492.5 acre entertainment district would include all of downtown Warren, and portions of Tod Avenue and Summit Street on the other side of the Mahoning River. Other zoning in this area, like residential zoning, would be lost if the committee went ahead with blanket zoning.
Proper atmosphere
Councilwoman Susan Hartman, D-7th Ward, is concerned about liquor licenses in the entertainment district.
In Youngstown, three bars have opened on Federal Street since the development of its entertainment district last summer, and three more upscale bars are to open there this year.
Since Youngstown had reached its quota for liquor licenses before the entertainment district formed, new bar owners typically paid between $20,000 to $40,000 to out-of-business establishments for licenses.
Youngstown's designation as an entertainment district opened up 15 new licenses at $2,300 each. The district covers about 120 acres from South Avenue to Belmont Avenue.
Holmes explained that one possibility is to require licenses to be 70 percent food and 30 percent liquor.
"I want to put fine restaurants down there, not bars," he said. "There's something wrong with the picture when people come here for free events, but go out of town to spend their money."
Holmes said the restaurants in downtown Warren are for the "courthouse crowd" and the city needs some other restaurants.

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