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Farmingdale proposes district zoned for affordable housing

Farmingdale officials are proposing an area on Fulton

Farmingdale officials are proposing an area on Fulton Street for affordable housing.  Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

The village of Farmingdale board is considering creating a zoning district that would allow affordable rental units to be built outside the downtown area, where much of the recent building boom has taken place. 

A hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday, but village officials said last week that it will likely be postponed to October because a draft of the law is being reworked. Village officials have not made the proposed law available to the public. 

Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said the proposed zone would require all of the housing to be income-restricted workforce housing. 

“We’re here to build 100 percent workforce housing and to keep my kids and the average blue-collar workers’ kids on Long Island by giving them affordable rental housing,” Ekstrand said. 

The current code allows density bonuses that  permit developers to build more apartments in the downtown mixed-use district if they set aside at least 10 percent of the units for residents earning no more than 80 percent of the area median income. That housing must have rents no greater than 30 percent of the household’s annual income. The rest of the units can be market rate.

Under the proposed zoning designation, called Workforce Housing, Ekstrand said all the units would be income-restricted, with several categories that would top out at 100 percent of area median income. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates the 2019 median family income  on Long Island is $124,015. Calculations of area median income are based on family median income but may be adjusted for family size, according to HUD. 

“We want an entire range of different incomes living together,” Ekstrand said. 

The Workforce Housing zoning district would allow 30 units per acre, Ekstrand said. 

The proposal drew criticism from former Mayor George Starkie, who called it “spot zoning” based on a legal notice for the proposal that identified seven lots  on Fulton Street that are currently zoned residential but would get the new zoning.

“If they were to pass this code, the property would now have this designation so that builder would never have to have a public hearing with this housing -- it would already be approved,” Starkie said. Starkie said he was also concerned that changing the zoning to allow apartments on lots zoned as single-family homes would set a precedent for other developers to do the same.

“Watch the floodgates open up,” he said. 

Ekstrand identified the developer interested in building affordable housing as Levittown-based D&F Development Group. A spokesman for the company confirmed they were in negotiations with “various parties” about developing housing in Farmingdale but declined to provide additional information. 

The village’s growth in recent years has increased criticism from residents. Last year Hauppauge-based Staller Associates Inc. dropped a proposal to build a 54-unit apartment building on Main Street in the face of public opposition.

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