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Amityville to hold hearing on whether to grant permit to auto dealership

Complaints from residents in the Village of Amityville

Complaints from residents in the Village of Amityville have prompted a vote on a law banning drivers from test driving cars on residential streets, like Bayport Ave. seen here, Jan. 11, 2017. The law is largely aimed at the Security Dodge dealership on Montauk Highway. Credit: Johnny Milano

An Amityville car dealership is seeking a permit to use a lot for parking while appealing a judge’s rejection of its lawsuit against the village.

The village on Monday will hold a public hearing on whether to grant the special use permit to Security Dodge, which is looking to use the lot it purchased at 335 Merrick Rd. for employee and customer parking. The village’s building department refused to review the site plans when Security applied for approval for 68 spots on the lot in 2016, with then-code enforcement officer Tom Whalen, who is now a village trustee, reporting that the company was parking unregistered vehicles on the site. Security was issued dozens of code violations for the lot totaling thousands of dollars in fines, according to village records.

Security, which has been in Amityville for more than 50 years, is one of the largest businesses in the village, with more than 100 employees. Residents have for years complained of problems with the company, ranging from parking to alleged reckless driving by employees.

Security appealed to the zoning board, which upheld the building department’s position in 2017. The village cited a 2006 law that states that uses permitted in the area “should be modified to eliminate automotive uses as special exceptions” and requires any site modifications to seek a use variance from the zoning board. Use variances are difficult to get as they come with strict requirements, officials said.  

Security filed a lawsuit against the village in state Supreme Court and this summer, Justice Patrick Leis III struck down Security Dodge’s lawsuit. Leis stated that there was sufficient evidence “to conclude that this is a nonconforming use by Security Dodge” and that it would be “fruitless to undertake a site plan review” when the use is not allowed under the code.

“It is not irrational and the court can’t just set aside willy-nilly determinations by the village,” Leis stated. He noted in his decision that approval “couldn’t be obtained by a special use permit if you did apply for it.”

Security Dodge attorney Joseph Buzzell of Melville said he has filed an appeal of the court decision but in the meantime the company is seeking the special permit.

“Since they submitted an application, they are entitled to a hearing just as any applicant would be entitled,” said Village attorney Bruce Kennedy, who has previously represented Security in other matters. He said that if approved by the board, the proposal would then go through more public hearings and would need approval by the planning and zoning boards.

Buzzell said that the lot is designed to “alleviate a problem” with employee and customer parking. Nearby residents have complained about those vehicles parking in their neighborhood.

“There are people who are going to be opposed to anything Security Dodge asks for and sometimes people in that position don’t actually evaluate what’s on the table,” he said. “Here’s something that actually makes the situation better.”

The public hearing will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall, 21 Ireland Place.

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