MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Morgantown City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance establishing a Private Outdoor Designated Area encompassing the Wharf District and downtown. The designation allows member establishments to sell alcohol that customers can take with them throughout the district.

The ordinance’s passage was met with a round of applause from those gathered at Tuesday’s meeting, mostly downtown business owners who believe the ordinance can boost the downtown economy.

“We are now competing with “town centers,” University Town Center, and Suncrest Town Center,” said Bill Rittenour, who owns Chestnut Brew Works. “This town, if we want to increase the economic viability of this town and get people down here, we’re going to need to draw them.”

Rittenour is planning to open a second location on Pleasant Street in the former Black Bear Burritos location.

Downtown fixture and business owner LJ Giuliani told councilors their vote sends a strong signal that there is support for small businesses in downtown.

“It’s not just attracting patrons to downtown; it’s also sending a signal out there to potential businesses saying things are looking a little bit different in Morgantown—there’s an opportunity here,” Giuliani said.

Scott Frederick told councilors he pulled a photography business out of downtown Morgantown in the 1990s, and the area has been in steady decline until recently. Frederick was involved in the construction of the new location of the Apothecary Ale House and is now working with Rittenour to finish out the interior for the new Chestnut Brew Works Pleasant Street location.

“Seeing what vibrancy that outdoor patio brought to Morgantown is kind of like a ground swell, and we should continue that but make it a little more open,” Frederick said.

Starting May 15th, the PODA will be open for business Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Downtown businesses that participate must get municipal and state permits and are reviewed by Main Street Morgantown, a member of Morgantown City Council, and representatives from the local business community.