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Long IslandTowns

Zoning change of vacant lot irks residents

Farmingdale officials have changed a vacant Prince Street lot to an industrial zone, allowing the owner to use the land as a staging area for his construction business.

But the rezoning is raising the ire of neighbors who say they'd prefer to keep truck traffic away from their homes. "It's the little guy versus the big guy," resident Geoffrey Funston said of the village board's unanimous decision, 5-0, Monday to grant property owner Walter Giglio the zone change.

Officials' votes were made despite a letter written by resident Frank DeRosa and signed by about 25 neighbors that said having Giglio's equipment and materials on the lot is "something in our backyard that you wouldn't want to have in yours."

Giglio, of South Farmingdale, said he intends to use the property, which takes up about a half-block and sits along the railroad tracks, for storing construction equipment and said there will be no business conducted there.

Real estate appraiser Barry Nelson, of East Meadow, a consultant hired by Giglio, said the staging area wouldn't affect property values. The lot, zoned residential, has never been used for that, Nelson said.

Residents protested Nelson's testimony to village officials as an expert, because he was working for Giglio.

"Expert witness? He rendered an opinion and has been contracted by the petitioner," resident Joe Diurno said.

Giglio still needs site plan and other approvals to build a proposed storage unit on the site. Farmingdale trustee Thomas Ryan said residents' concerns at this stage were hypothetical because the decision was "just a zoning change."

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