The Farmingdale village board of trustees has approved an exception to its zoning code that will allow an insurance office to open in a Main Street storefront.
The special-use permit it approved Tuesday for local Allstate Insurance Co. agency contradicts the village’s downtown revitalization plan, which requires ground-floor business in that area to be retail stores and offices to be on second floors. But supporters said that the code should be flexible and pointed out that the business has operated across the street for decades — it was grandfathered in at its current location when the code changed in 2011.
“We have the ability to make exceptions,” said Mayor Ralph Ekstrand, who favored the permit.
Diane Dilorenzo, who owns the Allstate office, said her current 800-square-foot storefront office attracts foot traffic to the street, that the new office would continue to bring people to the street, and that she planned to invest in the building’s appearance.
“I’m going to add beauty to the town because I have the capital,” Dilorenzo told the board. She plans to move into the building and expand initially into a 1,000-square-foot storefront in the 2,800-square-foot building. Later, she said, she plans to add telemarketers in the building.
“We’re the anchor, the anchor of Farmingdale,” she said. “Please don’t sink my ship.”
During the public comment session, former Farmingdale Mayor George Starkie, who served during the rezoning, argued against allowing the exception.
“If you don’t like the law then change the law, but don’t start making Swiss cheese out of it,” Starkie said. “You want to have your downtown, you need retail uses.”
Ekstrand replied: “We need people that increase foot traffic,” adding, “She has convinced me that she increases foot traffic.”
The exception passed with Ekstrand and two other board members voting for it, while two voted against it.