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Farmingdale may hit pause button with moratorium on downtown development

The mayor said residents are "sick and tired of building" and need a break from seeing scaffolding and cranes.

Development on Eastern Parkway in Farmingdale is seen

Development on Eastern Parkway in Farmingdale is seen on Saturday. Photo Credit: Michael Owens

Farmingdale’s explosive growth of the past few years may take a pause with a proposed moratorium on variances for new downtown development.

“The people are sick and tired of building,” Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said at a Jan. 7 village trustee meeting.

The moratorium would put a six-month halt on site plan approval and issuing permits on projects in the downtown mixed-use zone that required variances or waivers on height, density, floor-to-area ratio, parking and other zoning regulations. The village board plans to hold a public hearing on the proposed local law at its Feb. 4 meeting.

Residents "want to go through downtown without seeing scaffolding and cranes and other stuff that comes with demolishing a building and rebuilding," Ekstrand said in an interview.

The board plans to study the impact of recent development under the village master plan that was approved in 2011. It created a mixed-use zone intended to foster transit-oriented development and revitalize Main Street.

Ekstrand said the moratorium would not apply to existing businesses looking to undertake renovations. During the pause, the board and the town would look at "tweaks" to the existing downtown mixed-use code. One potential change Ekstrand said might be contemplated was ending a prohibition against travel agencies and financial services operating on the ground floor of buildings in the mixed-use zone. 

The master plan envisioned 375 units of housing being built downtown over 25 years. The pace of development has been faster, with more than 250 units built in Farmingdale’s downtown and train station area since the plan’s approval.

The initial development and opening of new restaurants and bars created a buzz that the village was an up and coming destination. But residents pushed back, citing noise, parking problems and a change in the village’s character.

In September, Hauppauge-based Staller Associates Inc. withdrew a proposal to build a 3½-floor, 54-unit apartment building and performing arts center on Main Street following a contentious hearing attended by more than 200 people. That project would have required variances to allow it to be built higher than allowed under the code and with fewer parking spaces than required.

Chuck Gosline, 67, a retired engineer from Farmingdale, said at the Jan. 7 meeting he would like the board to go beyond stopping such large developments and attract a greater diversity of businesses downtown.

Gosline said he likes the bars and restaurants that have come into the village, but asked, “When is enough, enough?"

“To oversaturate the village with bars and restaurants isn’t fair to the folks who have been here for 20 years,” he said.

Joseph Garcia, president of the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber supports the recent changes in Farmingdale but also recognizes there’s a “give and take between the businesses and the community.”

He said the chamber would be against “long-term curbs on smart development” but not against a six-month pause.

“Because it’s a defined end to the moratorium, we’re not opposed to it,” Garcia said. “It gives everyone a chance to give their input again on what the master plan for the village of Farmingdale should be.”

Recently Built Apartment Buildings in Farmingdale

285 Eastern Pkwy.

27 units

Built: 1930 (original building); 2016 (new construction)

148 South Front St.

115 units

Built: 2014

100 Secatogue Ave.

42 units

Built: 2015

245 Main St.

26 units

Built: 2015

SOURCE: Nassau County property records; Farmingdale financial documents

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