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Tax break proposal for Cornerstone at Farmingdale opposed by union workers

A developer has proposed constructing $8.1 million, 42-unit

A developer has proposed constructing $8.1 million, 42-unit apartment building on a property along the Long Island Rail Road in Farmingdale that is currently home to the headquarters of the Long Island Checkered Cab company.

A tax-break proposal for a multifamily rental housing project was opposed by union workers over the issue of wages at a hearing in Farmingdale Monday.

Cornerstone at Farmingdale, a planned $8.1 million, 42-unit apartment building, received approval from the village board of trustees in March and developer Anthony Bartone is now seeking tax breaks worth at least $335,563 through the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency. If approved, the project would also benefit from a payment in lieu of taxes agreement, which would allow the developer to effectively pay lower property tax rates. The amount was not available Monday.

"They should not be granted tax relief, IDA benefits," said Paul Leo, council representative for the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters. Leo said construction workers at another Bartone project in Farmingdale are making "wages from the 1970s."

"The purpose of the IDA from our standpoint and our attorney's standpoint is that it is supposed to generate good paying jobs," Leo said.

About 20 people attended the hearing at village hall, most wearing T-shirts identifying themselves as members of the carpenters union, but Leo was the only speaker at the hearing.

Bartone's attorney, Frank Davis of the Uniondale law firm Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana LLP, said his client is willing to talk to the union.

"We can start a dialogue," Davis said. He said Bartone has worked with unions on his other project in Farmingdale -- the 154-unit complex, Jefferson at Farmingdale Plaza, next to the Long Island Rail Road station.

"We've always gotten the unions involved," Davis said.Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said the village was not involved with negotiations between the union and developer.

"As long as the building is built to code and they pass all their inspections by the village engineers, that's all the village cares about," Ekstrand said. He said the payment in lieu of tax agreement would be good for the village because it would help spur development that would bring in more revenue than the property does now.

Davis said the developer expects to begin construction in the current quarter and finish next summer.

The new project, which is also to be built adjacent to the LIRR, will displace the Farmingdale office of the Long Island Checker Cab company, which plans to briefly move into a trailer on the other side of the tracks. Ekstrand said the village is helping the company look for a new location.

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