A team of planners hired by the Town of Babylon has completed a draft of new land development regulations for central East Farmingdale that could lay the groundwork for a sweeping transformation of the area — a prospect that’s left some business owners and residents wary.
The plan would allow a dense, mixed-use neighborhood near the intersection of Route 110 and Conklin Street, an area characterized by broad streets and a hodgepodge of industrial and commercial businesses.
The code is a work in progress that will go before the Babylon Town Board before it is finalized, according to planners from Dover, Kohl & Partners, the Florida-based firm leading the rezoning.
If approved in its current form, the code would:
- Require two- to five-story buildings with some ground-floor shops in a network of small streets and open spaces at the center of the 108-acre project area, with lower density at the outskirts.
- Not include mandatory parking minimums for new developments in the project area. Amy Groves of Dover, Kohl & Partners said developers would need to present a “reasonable solution” to meeting parking needs.
- Exclude industrial land uses in the project area.
Planners said those features would help create a lively, walkable neighborhood at the nexus of a reopened Republic Long Island Rail Road station and a new bus rapid transit system on Route 110.
The Republic LIRR station has been closed since the 1980s, but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has devoted $5 million in its current capital program for preliminary design and environmental studies to prepare for a possible reopening, agency spokesman Aaron Donovan said.
Suffolk County is preparing a request for proposals for design and engineering work on the approximately $35 million Route 110 bus system, which county officials said could be under construction by 2020.
The town’s planners are continuing to revise the draft and said they hope to submit it to the town board this summer. But the proposed changes worried some existing business owners and residents.
“It’s going to basically put me out of business in that location,” said Frank Suppa, the owner of a mulch manufacturing company headquartered in the heart of the project area.
But Groves said existing businesses would be grandfathered into the new plan, and would likely only be forced to comply with new regulations if they sought to make significant changes to the design of their properties.
Building heights are a point of contention for residents.
“Four- to five-story buildings is not going to happen,” Thomas H. Joseph Jr., president of the Residents of East Farmingdale Civic Association, said at a presentation of the draft last month.
“They do not want it,” he said, referring to other East Farmingdale residents.