Written by Christy Hinko Friday, 18 November 2011 00:00
The Village of Farmingdale Board of Trustees voted at Monday’s public hearing to amend the zoning code of the village to add Article XIV- a downtown mixed-use zoning district, which allows residential units to be built over stores on Main Street.
Prior to the vote, the hearing turned slightly contentious when some residents raised concerns about the various problems which may arise from amending the zoning code. Some residents expressed to the board that they were hopeful the new code will lead to a vibrant, attractive and economically flourishing Downtown Farmingdale, while other locals were staunchly opposed to the plan due to the potential for illegal apartments and traffic congestion.
“We have a lot of illegal apartments in Farmingdale,” said local resident Joanne Corao, in the Public Be Heard portion of the hearing. “On my block alone, there are illegal apartments which are not visited once a year [by code enforcement officers]. That’s bothersome, and I’m paying school taxes for these children. How are these new apartments going to pay school district taxes? How will our school district absorb all these extra occupants? How are we going to handle the traffic?”
Corao added, “I understand we need to grow, and I welcome it. But not at the expense of the quality of life of the people who have been living here for 20, 30, or 40 years.”
Another resident pleaded with the board to put the “Downtown Farmingdale 2035 Plan” up for a public referendum vote due to the divisive nature of the issue. “I think the community is divided over this,” said Farmingdale resident Frank Gatto. “I don’t know what the rush is to do this. There is an election coming up this March. Why can’t we put it out to the public for referendum? If it’s so divided, why can’t we let the residents speak?”
Board members were in agreement with Mayor George Starkie that the plan should not go to a public referendum vote. Later in the meeting, the board tabled their plan to vote on the adoption of Local Law 6 of 2011, which would have amended the zoning code of Farmingdale’s office-residence district. The board will vote on the law at their next board meeting, which will be held Monday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. at Village Hall.
The law would have added the possibility for a restaurant or funeral home to open in the office-resident district in the village. Although Local Law 6 wasn’t voted on, residents were given the opportunity to weigh in on the issue in a separate Public Be Heard segment of the meeting. The general consensus from residents was that they were concerned about noise pollution, foul odors and the potential of attracting rodents to the area if a restaurant was to open in the residential district in the village.
“I know people who live where restaurants have been put up,” said local resident Bill Fitzpatrick. “The odors that emanate - you once loved barbecue, and now you can’t stand it because that’s all you smell. On top of that, the noise just carries on. However, residents wouldn’t be opposed to an office opening because they have limited hours and they’re quiet.”
Another resident said the downtown revitalization process has taken long enough, and that changes should be made as soon as possible. “The people in this village will tell you they want something done so that stores can be opened up to get the village back to where it was once,” said Steve Wilson. “There is no need to prolong this any longer. Let’s get it put in place so that the developers can start moving and get this town back to where it should be.”
Deputy Mayor Patricia Christiansen responded by wholeheartedly lending her support to the Downtown Master Plan, while reminding residents that Farmingdale must continue to strive to move forward into the future in a positive direction. “Farmingdale is not going back to what it was in 1950,” Christiansen said. “We have to do something and move forward. To do nothing would just bring us to a slower pace than we’re at now. These comprehensive studies have shown what we can do, and what we should be doing.”
In other matters, Rosemary Trudden, a Farmingdale resident of over 30 years, was honored by the Board of Trustees for her dedicated service to the village. “She has been an active member of our community for decades,” said Mayor George Starkie. “She was also honored as Small-Business Person of the Year by the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce.”