Hempstead Town Board members postponed a vote Tuesday on a controversial measure to tighten a nearly 40-year-old law requiring service stations to provide free air for vehicles.

Service station owners, repair technicians and representatives of industry groups rigorously argued with the town board for about two hours Tuesday over the proposal to close a loophole that would require free air to customers.

The town is seeking to amend its 1978 law mandating free air at service stations. The town says service stations are bypassing the law by using coin-operated machines, although they still offer air free to customers if they request it.

Opponents of the bill, which included at least two law firms and an automotive supply group from New Jersey, said the town is passing an unconstitutional measure that would be challenged in federal court.

Other small business owners of service stations throughout Long Island protested the bill, saying it takes away money from small businesses and adds undue expenses of adjusting machines with compressed air to offer free air to comply with the law.

Some service station owners said the coin-operated machines usually generate $50 to $75 per month. Replacing coin machines could cost $4,000 in some cases, according to testimony during Tuesday’s hearing.

“We will contest this under the law,” said Andrea Tsoukalas, an attorney representing the Service Station Vending Equipment Co. and the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association.

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