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Amityville considers ban on test driving of cars in neighborhoods

Complaints from residents in the Village of Amityville

Complaints from residents in the Village of Amityville have prompted a proposed law that would ban test driving cars on residential streets, like Bayport Avenue, seen here, Jan. 11, 2017. The bill is largely aimed at the Security Dodge dealership on Montauk Highway. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

The Amityville Village board of trustees is considering a proposed law that would ban test-driving of cars in residential areas.

The law — which, if approved, would be the first of its kind on Long Island — would prohibit test-driving by individuals seeking to buy vehicles or test repaired vehicles as well as employees of dealerships, motor vehicle repair and body shops.

Mayor James Wandell and trustee Nick LaLota said at Monday night’s hearing on the proposal that they had received numerous complaints from residents about test-drivers using neighborhood streets.

They identified a car dealership on Merrick Road, Security Dodge, as having drivers use these streets. They said the village worked out an agreement with that business to restrict such test-driving.

“I think this is probably a more prudent way to attack the problem because, quite honestly, the phone keeps ringing, the emails keep coming, the texts keep coming and the problem hasn’t gone away,” LaLota said.

If approved, Wandell said the law would cover about 25 businesses in the village.

One resident, Frank Cruthers, told the board he has called the village police to try and stop the practice.

“It’ll stop briefly but it always comes back,” he said.

Security Dodge co-owner J.J. Vigorito told the board that the agreement with the village states the dealership is restricted from using some streets. He said he tells his employees not to use those streets for test drives.

And service director Bill Davolio said all license plates registered to the dealership are tracked so they can respond to any complaints.

“We know who’s driving what car and when,” he said. “This is how the dealership is trying to stop anything from happening. We don’t want anybody to get hurt.”

Trustees Dennis Siry and Kevin Smith questioned whether the proposed law would be enforceable.

“I think it’s going to be very hard to prove that someone is test-driving a car and it’s a tough position to put the cops in,” said Siry.

Some residents at the hearing also questioned the proposed law.

“The law would make it illegal for me to change a tire on my car and test-drive it in my own neighborhood,” resident Eric Taylor said.

“I think you’ve got some serious constitutional issues with this law,” said former village attorney Bruce Kennedy, who has represented Security Dodge in other matters.

Kennedy pointed out that banning test-driving from residential areas would be difficult as many of the main streets in the village are zoned partly residential and partly commercial.

Wandell said village attorney Richard Handler would be taking another look at the proposed law.

“There were some cogent points brought up by the residents,” Wandell said after the hearing.

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