GRAY — American Legion Post 86 will continue to be allowed to hold fundraisers outdoors this year after working with the town to renew its special amusement license.
The Gray Town Council voted 5-0 on Jan. 16 to approve the license renewal, which had previously hit a snag after noise complaints surrounding at least one event – a fundraiser for the Travis Mills Foundation – held at the Legion last year.
The renewal includes new provisions agreed to at a Jan. 12 meeting between town staff and Legion representatives.
“Actually, it was a really nice meeting,” said Post 86 Adjutant Jason Hall at the Jan. 16 council meeting. “I came in with some ideas, and the town came in with some ideas – they happened to be the same idea.”
As part of the new stipulations, the Legion will be provided with mailing addresses of abutting property owners within 250 feet so it can send them an annual notice that includes contact information. The Legion must also provide the town website administrator with a list of its outdoors events to be placed on the town’s online portal.
If a large event like the Travis Mills Foundation fundraiser is going to be held at the hall, it must be announced at a Town Council meeting. Either a Legion representative can attend and make the announcement or the Legion must provide the information to the town manager.
Any events at the Legion using amplifiers must end by 9 p.m. and non-amplified events must end by midnight. In addition, the Legion’s hall rental agreement will prohibit renters from horn blowing, fireworks or other loud outside noises. Occupancy at the legion hall is capped at 300.
Last August, the Legion threw a concert and barbecue fundraiser for the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit that supports veterans and their families, that drew noise complaints from neighbors. A second event that same weekend – a fundraiser for a local girl with cancer – included horn blowing from loud trucks, Hall said.
Hall said Cumberland County Sheriff’s officials came to the Travis Mills event multiple times after noise complaints, but he said it had been difficult to determine how many complaints were made, where they came from and how to contact the complainants so the Legion could apologize.
Town Manager Deborah Cabana said previously that she received complaints from three individuals, and that people said they couldn’t hear their TVs in their homes over the noise from the Legion. One resident described the noise as “abuse” at the previous council meeting.
Council Chairwoman Lynn Gallagher emphasized this week that the council had previously approved the Legion’s liquor license renewal. It tabled a vote on the special amusement permit to gather more information, but had not previously weighed in for or against the special amusement permit renewal.
“The council at no point said, ‘No, we didn’t want a special amusement permit.’ It was a question of the council receiving more information that that they can make an informed decision,” she said.
“We have great pride in our Legion and our veterans that are pivotal in this community,” Gallagher said.
Councilor Dan Maguire, who like the other councilors voted in favor of renewing the special amusement license with the new stipulations, questioned at the meeting and in an email to Cabana and Gallagher the process for license applications like the Legion’s.
“It’s unfortunate when the process creates animosity, or it makes people feel like they’re either not being heard or they’re not being considered,” Maguire said during the meeting. “Is there anything that we can do to improve our process so that next time you come up, or anybody comes up, it’s clear what the process is?”
In his email, Maguire said he has concerns about where alcoholic beverages will be allowed outside at the Legion and about how complaints outside the 250-foot buffer zone will be addressed in the future.
Maguire’s email also said that “it doesn’t feel like we’re giving the public adequate time to respond” regarding the agreement made between town staff and the Legion.
No members of the public spoke against the agreement during the Jan. 16 council meeting.
Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.
American Legion Post 86 adjutant Jason Hall addresses the Gray Town Council as other legion members listen.