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Farmingdale OKs apartment complex near LIRR

This rendering shows the proposed 27-unit apartment building,

This rendering shows the proposed 27-unit apartment building, left, that developer Staller Associates got village approval to build along Eastern Parkway in Farmingdale. Credit: Handout

Farmingdale Village trustees, after more than an hour of vocal public opposition, this week approved a 27-unit apartment complex near the Long Island Rail Road station.

Developer Staller Associates Inc. at the meeting Monday night received approval for a special-use permit to build denser housing than zoning allowed at 285 Eastern Pkwy. The project will include a new 3½-story building and the conversion of an existing brick warehouse into apartments.

"Farmingdale is working hard to improve the village and we are pleased to be part of that effort," developer Cary Staller said after the meeting, noting that the new building would complement the existing one.

During the hearing portion of the meeting, many residents objected to the apartment building's design, saying its geometric panels, size and color scheme didn't fit the surrounding neighborhood of single-family homes.

One critic received applause when he compared it to something from "Star Trek." Others objected to building so many units in the neighborhood, worrying it would cause traffic and parking problems.

Mayor Ralph Ekstrand predicted the apartment's design would win awards. "That building is going to be drop-dead gorgeous," Ekstrand said.

Ken Sobel, a 61-year-old product designer from Farmingdale, opposed the project. "It's overdevelopment," Sobel said, adding it was out of character with suburbia.

"This is what you need for younger people," Staller replied.

Jim Orobona, 57, a computer network analyst from Farmingdale, said, "We're turning Farmingdale into Queens."

Earlier this year the village rezoned the project's site as "downtown mixed use," though the building will only contain rental apartments. The project includes a new building and a remodeling of an existing one. Under village code, the project will include three "affordable" units to be set aside for renters who make about $72,000 or less.

Ekstrand said that another Staller project -- a mixed-use development at 231-245 Main St. -- would proceed as well, though a vote was not taken on the special permit Monday. Ekstrand said that the Main Street project had been approved in June, contingent on review and comment by the zoning and planning board.

Staller said in an interview that, because that review and comment had taken place, another vote was not needed for the project to go ahead. That project will be a mix of ground floor retail space, with 26 rental apartments on the second and third floors.

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