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TRUSTEES OK NEW LODGE USE

Village of Alden trustees have approved a rezoning that will allow an old Masonic Lodge to be used as a new cafe, gift shop and community theater.

Trustees, by a 5-0 vote, decided Thursday to rezone the Church Street property from residential to commercial use, Village Clerk Betty Kegler said.

Village leaders have been looking at the issue throughout the year due to concerns about the location, condition and historic nature of the building.

"We've had tremendous support from everyone in the village," said Russell Fuller, whose wife Audrey owns the building, which was built as a school in 1860 and was bought by the Masons in 1904.

Audrey Fuller bought the 4,600-square-foot, two-story building at an auction in 1999. Village leaders were initially concerned over the new venture being in a residential district, but Russell Fuller said the renovated facility will be an asset to the community.

"I think we can serve as a catalyst to what the village could become," Russell Fuller said. He said he was glad that it was decided that the building should not be designated as a historical landmark because that could add expense to the project.

"There's too many restrictions as to what you can and cannot do," Russell Fuller said. He hopes the Alden Christian Theater Group can use the facility. Group President Kathy Sutter expressed support for the idea earlier this year.

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