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Scotty McCreery

Gov. Ivey signs bill giving Sylacauga veterans group limited exemption to building code compliance at former National Guard Armory

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey today signed a bill extending the time in which non-profit veterans’ organizations must comply with certain state and local building codes, a victory for Sylacauga’s American Legion Post 45.

Introduced as House Bill 62 by Representative Ben Robbins (AL-33) and as Senate Bill 114 by Senator Keith Kelley (AL-12), Sylacauga is not mentioned by name, yet the legislation resolves problems the Post has had since the Alabama National Guard vacated the Armory on W. Fort Williams St. in 2017.

Built in the 1950s, the Armory was one of 13 in Alabama initially set to close and consolidate as part of the Guard’s “25-Year Master Plan”. When ownership reverted to Post 45 as the site’s original owner, building codes and permitting requirements were deemed applicable by the city, effectively limiting the Post’s use of the facility for most public purposes.

The signing ceremony for the bill as Act No. 2023-175, approved on May 12, was held in the former House of Representatives chamber of the State Capitol and included Kelley and Robbins along with Commander Jon Hall, First Vice Commander Bill Coker, and Treasurer Jerry Collins of American Legion Post 45.

Approval of the limited exemption by legislative act means the Post has until at least 10 years from the date the armory facility was transferred to them to fully comply with modern building codes. The bills are summarized as providing that “when a nonprofit veterans’ organization, by means of a reversionary clause in a deed, acquires a possessory interest in a state armory building, with the intent to use the facility to further the organization’s support of veterans, active duty service members, and their dependents, the building shall be deemed to be in compliance with any applicable state or local building codes for not less than 10 calendar years from the date of acquisition.”

Veterans running the non-profit organization insisted that the facility’s core use and purpose had not changed. “The definition of an armory is not just about a place where arms and military equipment are stored,” Hall explained. “National Guard Armories including ours have been used for training, meetings, parades, assembly space, classrooms, and equipment storage, and available as assembly areas for local organizations.”

“Our use continues that,” Hall added, “and our intention, thanks to support from Governor Ivey, Senator Kelley, and Representative Robbins, is to rehabilitate the building as we are able to generate supporting income.”

“I think it is important that we cut through red tape for the benefit of our veterans,” said Robbins. “Our debt to their sacrifice can never be repaid, and we should do all we can to support them. I am proud to work with Senator Kelley to support our veterans, and hopefully, the American Legion will be able to better assist veterans and families throughout the community.”


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