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Zoning out: Leave the Legion alone

May 22. 2018 11:19PM

Alton officials are upset that the Alton American Legion hall is functioning as an American Legion hall.

The nonprofit veterans organization bought the property on Route 28 in 2001, and has been operating the Claude R. Batchelder Post 72 from that location ever since.

But Alton Code Enforcement Officer John Dever III says the Legion will have to undergo a site plan review, and seek an exception from the zoning board in order to continue running a commercial function facility.

Dever says the post has intensified its use of the property, pushing up the need for parking. He says no one filed a site plan review application 17 years ago when the Legion replaced the Edgewood restaurant.

This seems to be a case of a government functionary attempting to justify his own existence. If a missing piece of paperwork hasn’t been a problem for 17 years, it shouldn’t be a problem now.

Nor should hosting a few more functions trigger such a bureaucratic headache. A restaurant or other business would not be forced to jump through such hoops if it became more popular.

American Legion Post 72 has been doing its charitable work, celebrating the lives of departed veterans, and hosting prime rib dinners without running afoul of town hall.

Alton selectmen heard from Legion supporters on Monday evening, but did not take action on the controversy. We encourage them to direct Dever’s attention elsewhere.

Veterans Local and County Government Editorial Alton

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