Bayville Legion post's outdoor weddings approved

Vincent Libertini, commander of American Legion Post 1285 Vincent Libertini, commander of American Legion Post 1285 in Bayville, in the outside waterfront patio area behind the post's building. (Aug. 8, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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The Bayville zoning board has approved a controversial request by the village American Legion post to hold outdoor wedding ceremonies, but with numerous restrictions to avoid noise and other problems for neighbors.

The unanimous Nov. 7 decision limits the length and time of ceremonies. And it requires the Legion post and any caterer to use valet parking and allow outdoor smoking only by the front entrance to minimize the impact on surrounding residents.

Residents were divided at three hearings, although most speakers favored allowing the financially strapped post to hold outdoor ceremonies to boost its income.

The most vociferous opponent, next-door neighbor Michael Ryan, has said he would sue if the request was approved. He and his attorney could not be reached for comment Friday.

With a 1979 approval from the zoning board of appeals, Robert H. Spittel Post 1285, whose residentially zoned Bayville Avenue property overlooks Long Island Sound, rented its facility to catering businesses. The most recent tenant, the WaterView Club, was evicted in April because it owed about $200,000 in back taxes, back rent and utility payments -- and it generated complaints from neighbors.

To attract a new caterer, the Legion post asked the board to allow outdoor wedding ceremonies no longer than one hour with no amplified music and starting before 7 p.m., with all receptions indoors. Legion officials said no caterer would sign a contract without that provision.

The board approved ceremonies of as long as one hour, between 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Other stipulations are that ceremonies and photography be limited to the fenced-in gazebo area near the beach and that music be unamplified and limited to four stringed instruments.

Chairman Eugene Pileggi said Friday that "the restrictions we put on the legion will ensure income and that they will still be good neighbors."

Pileggi said valet parking was required because "we don't want them to have people walking down the street to get their cars at night and make noise and bother the neighbors. We conceded that they can have outdoor smoking on the south side of the building in the entrance area, which would not affect the neighbors because that part of the building is right on Bayville Avenue."

Legion attorney Jeffrey D. Forchelli of Uniondale said, "We're in full agreement with the restrictions." He said outdoor ceremonies would begin in the spring and he estimated there might be a maximum of three dozen a year because they would only occur when the weather was favorable.

The board decision states that the Legion post proved "a financial hardship exists . . . due to declining membership" and "the burden to operate the premises solely as the headquarters" of the post.

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