Local Veterans of Foreign Wars failed sell the city on a zoning amendment that would allow them to buy a building in the Business Park and relocate there.

The roughly 10,000-square-foot building at 17 Airport Road was built by Group Home Foundation for its light manufacturing work program, Belfast Industries, and was later home to the organization's Community Connections day program for people with intellectual disabilities.

Group Home Foundation closed its doors in 2016 and 17 Airport Road stood vacant until earlier this year when Tidewater Oil moved its offices to a wing of the building.

James Roberts, commander of the Belfast VFW post, said his organization had hoped to move from its two-story, 5,000-square-foot building on Field Street to a larger space with better handicapped accessibility, which he said would help older members.

The VFW made several offers on the Group Home property before hitting the zoning hurdle, he said. The setback had a ripple effect, delaying a related plan by Belfast Soup Kitchen to move into the VFW's Field Street building.

Properties in the Business Park, located off Congress Street, can be used for manufacturing, wholesale sales and retail sales of products made in the park. In 2014, the City Council amended the code to allow Maine Maritime Products to open a take-out stand, "Off the Hook Shuckin' Shack," at one end of the seafood processing building.

Roberts and other VFW members had hoped the city would make a similar exception for them. But City Planner Wayne Marshall said the council, while supportive of the VFW's work in the community, didn't think the organization was a good fit for the business park.

"It wasn't really a discussion of ownership concerns, it was more a discussion of the use," Marshall said. "There was concern that having something that would have regular large events and was something of a social club was less the type of business for which the Business Park was originally established."

Roberts said in an email to The Republican Journal that the VFW is considering other options including buying land or rebuilding on land it already owns, but the organization has no further plans to pursue 17 Airport Road.

"Our attempt to purchase that building is officially (as having been killed) dead," he said.

Marshall would not comment on whether the city had received other inquiries about 17 Airport Road but said inquiries of that kind are more frequent than three to five years ago.

"We're answering a lot of questions about Belfast at this time," he said. "All types of properties. Some on commercial end. Quite a few on residential end, mostly rehabs versus new construction."