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Babylon residents decry plan to demolish historic buildings

A developer who wanted approval last year to

A developer who wanted approval last year to remodel two historic Babylon Village buildings, including the Selah Smith Carll House, seen on Feb. 17, 2018, now wants to demolish them. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

A developer who sought approval last year to remodel two 19th-century buildings on West Main Street in Babylon Village now wants to demolish them.

The revised plans sparked renewed opposition from area residents, who say Babylon’s architectural heritage is under threat.

The new proposal by Ken Rogers of Babylon-based Rogers Development Corp. calls for the Selah Smith Carll House (circa 1826) and the neighboring South Side Signal Building (circa 1869) to be torn down.

In their place, Rogers plans to build a two-story brick building with retail spaces on the ground floor, apartments above and parking in the rear.

Rogers did not respond Friday to requests for comment.

James Slack, chairman of the village planning board, said the proposal still requires density, setback and use variances from the zoning board of appeals.

The proposal is not on the agenda of the zoning board’s next meeting on Wednesday.

Area residents expressed their distaste for the new proposal at a planning board meeting on Thursday.

“I just think this is really wrong,” village resident Ann Curry said.

“There are a great many people who are very upset,” village resident Mary Gallagher added.

In response to such opposition, Rogers previously told Newsday that old buildings like these are often dilapidated and expensive to maintain.

According to a 2016 letter from the village building inspector to the previous owner, the Signal Building is “unsafe and structurally dangerous.”

Residents also presented the planning board with a petition of 1,500 signatures calling on the village to adopt a historic code to protect old buildings.

Planning board members said that they did not have jurisdiction to adopt such a code and that the board of trustees is better suited to consider the petition.

“It would take a movement, a grass-roots movement,” to compel the village to create such a code, Slack said.

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