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Farmingdale's planned Business Improvement District not a one-size-fits-all in downtown

Jeanette Schmidt, owner of the Flower Shop of

Jeanette Schmidt, owner of the Flower Shop of Farmingdale, said she is not looking forward to additional taxes that would come with inclusion in the Business Improvement District. Credit: Johnny Milano

Farmingdale’s Business Improvement District will likely become a reality next year, pending approval by the New York State comptroller’s office, but it's getting mixed reviews on Main Street.

Business improvement districts, or BIDs, are meant to stimulate investment in the district and village and promote and beautify a downtown. They are funded by assessments on properties within the district that are generally passed on to the businesses that lease those properties.

“We’re taxed enough already,” said Jeanette Schmidt, owner of the Flower Shop of Farmingdale, which has been on Main Street for more than a decade.

Schmidt said that while she’s pleased with the improvements in Farmingdale’s downtown, one of the purposes of the BID — funding the summer concert series on Main Street — hurts her business because it blocks vehicle traffic and keeps drivers from parking near her store and other establishments.

“These fairs aren’t helping us at all,” Schmidt said.

A block north, at the Whiskey Down Diner, the BID was welcomed as a way to bring in foot traffic.

“Everyone’s on board for having that economic growth,” said John Kanaras, speaking on behalf of the eatery owned by his father. “We’re a business that hinges on growth and having people in the area.”

Kanaras said they weren’t sure how the BID’s assessment would affect them but said he thought it would include a “slight tax hike.”

The district is also meant to provide additional security, provide snow removal and sanitation services and market the village, according to the district plan.

The idea for the district was championed last year by businesses that were already pooling money to pay for downtown events, Newsday previously reported.

The BID's cost of operations will be spread out among different businesses depending on the kind of businesses that operated in buildings. The plan creates four categories of property assessment in the district, which runs on Main Street from just north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks to Prospect Street across from Village Hall.

Buildings with restaurants and bars — which have led the boom in Farmingdale’s downtown in recent years — would face the highest rate, up to 20 percent of their assessed taxes, according to Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand. Buildings with retail businesses would pay up to 10 percent and those with any other commercial businesses would pay up to 5 percent. Government buildings and buildings owned by nonprofits for noncommercial purposes would be exempt.

The BIDs annual budget was set at $33,830 for the first year in the district plan.

If the plan is approved by the state comptroller’s office, a nonprofit would then be established to manage the district. The nonprofit would be run by a nine-person board, with three members chosen by the village government, four chosen by property owners in the district and two by district business owners, according to the plan.

Oyster Bay Deputy Town Supervisor Gregory Carman Jr., partner at the law firm Carman, Callahan & Ingham LLP whose office is on the corner of Main and Conklin streets, said the district was “unnecessary” and that some businesses wouldn’t benefit from it. 

Class A Property: A building with a food or drink establishment on the ground floor. Would pay rate of up to 20 percent of property taxes to BID.
Class B Property: A building with a retail business on the ground floor, not including general office use. Would pay rate of up to 10 percent of assessed taxes to BID.
Class C Property: A building with general office use on the ground floor, not including government or nonprofits. Would pay rate of up to 5 percent of assessed taxes to BID.
Class D Property: A building owned by government or a nonprofit and devoted entirely to government or nonprofit use. Would be exempt from paying BID.
Sources: Farmingdale Village, Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand

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