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Babylon Village charges car dealer with illegal use of two lots

Amityville Village car dealer Security Dodge faces $15,000 in fines over what village officials say is illegal use of two lots on Merrick Road, the village’s main east-west thoroughfare.

The dealer has pleaded not guilty and is due in Village Justice Court June 7, according to Joseph Buzzell, a Melville attorney representing the dealer.

Amityville may seek a court order to stop all Security activity at one of the lots, 335 Merrick Rd., according to trustee Nick LaLota, who said that village attorney Richard Handler is researching legal remedies.

Since March, Village code enforcement officer Tom Whalen has issued at least eight tickets to Security for offenses including illegal occupancy, parking of unregistered vehicles and unpermitted use at 335 and 315 Merrick Rd., east of its main showroom at Merrick Road and South Bayview Avenue. LaLota said ticketing would continue daily.

Buzzell, a partner in the firm Buzzell, Blanda & Visconti who was retained by Security in April, said the dealer has applied for approvals and that there may be “technical issues” with many of the tickets.

Security is using the 335 Merrick lot for customer and employee parking, he said, a need the village helped create when it restricted parking on Bayview Ave.

“Security is in a position where it has to protect its operation, but that doesn’t mean we’re unwilling to work with the village or the community,” Buzzell said. “There are things that can be worked out, if the village wants.”

But LaLota suggested that the village is no longer be open to diplomacy.

“Residents of the village have had it with Security Dodge,” he said in an interview this week. “They have pushed the village administration past the limits of our patience.”

Security is one of the village’s largest and highest-profile businesses, buying up a number of properties on Merrick Road and near Sprague Avenue for vehicle storage and display in recent years. Among those properties is a lot at 322 Merrick Rd. which was abandoned in 2008 by its owner, whom village officials have been unable to locate.

Complaints from neighbors in south Amityville over parking problems and alleged reckless driving by Security employees last year held up approvals for months for key permits the dealer needed, officials said. Those approvals were granted in June, however, after the dealer agreed to a lengthy list of stipulations and restrictions.

Village officials hailed the agreement at the time as a balance between business needs and residents’ quality of life similar to the deals governing Amityville’s popular waterfront bars.

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