The proposed construction of a 27-unit residential building about five blocks from Main Street in Farmingdale strays from the village's original plan to revitalize the immediate downtown area, residents said.
Officials, however, agreed unanimously Monday to change the zone to "downtown mixed use" for the 285 Eastern Pkwy. property owned by Old Field-based developer Cary Staller.
Voting 5-0, trustees said zoning-change approval doesn't equate with project approval, as Staller still must undergo site plan and building permit reviews to move his development forward.
The project is the second in Farmingdale in recent months that seeks to capitalize on commuters using the nearby Long Island Rail Road station. The last phase of the mixed-use Bartone project adjacent to the station, with 154 total residential units, received village approval last month and was to break ground late this month or in early June.
Officials granted Staller a zone change with the stipulation that he not install businesses at the site. Staller was not at Monday's meeting, but his attorney, Anthony Guardino, of Hauppauge, reassured residents that Staller did not intend to include commercial space in the building.
The caveat seemed not enough to mollify those who said Farmingdale should urge developers to focus first and foremost on Main Street, where there are several empty storefronts.
"The whole issue of the downtown development was downtown. Not Eastern Parkway. Not the railroad tracks. OK? Downtown," resident Joe Diurno said. "We want to get businesses downtown and not to develop properties in the far reaches of the villages."
Staller also owns property at 231-245 Main St. that he seeks to transform into a mixed-use development.
Resident Steve Wilson said Staller could "generate tremendous goodwill" by pushing his Main Street project before the Eastern Parkway one.
Guardino countered that Staller's plan is to have both projects proceed simultaneously through the village approvals process. The Eastern Parkway site was presented first because it required a zone change as an extra step, he said.
The Main Street project is set for a June 3 public hearing.