A developer had planned to demolish the 95-year-old Tower Ford building...

A developer had planned to demolish the 95-year-old Tower Ford building at the corner of South Middle Neck and Brompton roads in Thomaston and construct a five-story, 75-unit apartment complex in the village. Credit: Newsday/William Perlman

The Village of Thomaston’s preservation commission has determined that the Tower Ford building, site of a planned multiunit apartment development, meets the criteria for landmark status, reaching the same conclusion the state preservation office announced in November.

The commission voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve a determination, which acknowledges that the building at 124 South Middle Neck Rd. meets the criteria of a "building or structure which embodies the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural specimen of construction" or which embodies economic or social history of the community, under the village’s landmark code. The determination will go to the board of trustees, which can approve or modify the recommendation.

The commission held two public hearings and retained Archaeology & Historic Resource Services LLC, based in upstate Orange County, as a consultant. The company reviewed the site and recommended the building receive landmark status. Commission chairman Donald Stern drafted a report noting all the factors — including strong community support, architectural value and impact on property tax base — before making a determination.

"I’ve come to my own conclusion that the building should be designated as a landmark," Stern said at the meeting. "I don’t think it’s an easy or obvious decision in light of the factors I mentioned and the other factors discussed in the draft report, but that’s where I come out."

A proposal by 124 Middle Neck Realty LLC sought to demolish the 95-year-old building, site of a former car dealership, to construct a five-story, 75-unit apartment complex at the corner of South Middle Neck and Brompton roads. The plans were met with strong pushback from residents, who cited concerns about parking and density, among other issues. The application was withdrawn in November just days after the New York State Historic Preservation Office released its opinion stating the building meets the criteria for listing to both the National and State Register of Historic Places.

In a letter dated Jan. 24, Stephen Limmer, a Garden City-based lawyer with McLaughlin & Stern LLP who represents the applicant, asked the commission to deny landmark status on the basis that the building has "no particular historic aspect" and the designation will create an "unnecessary financial hardship." He also requested the commission withhold from making a decision until May 1 to give the applicant a chance to present a multifamily dwelling in lieu of landmarking.

Limmer declined to comment on the commission’s vote.

Thomaston resident Nancy Sherman said she was pleased with the outcome.

"I’m very happy that the landmark preservation commission did their job, followed the evidence and determined that the Tower Ford building should be designated as a landmark," Sherman said.

Mayor Steven Weinberg praised the commission’s work and said the board of trustees is scheduling a public hearing on the commission’s report.

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