Farmingdale Walmart Expansion Supporters Question Town of Babylon's Slow Review

More than 2,000 local supporters of the store's expansion cite lower prices, increased fresh food choices, additional jobs and thousands in local property taxes.

A loud chorus of Farmingdale supporters in favor of the expansion of the Walmart store along Route 110 continues to grow while the Town of Babylon stresses the complexity of the site and is giving the application a thorough review.

The store filed an application in Feb. 2009 with the Town of Babylon Planning & Development to expand its existing store by 60,000 square feet, only to find nearly two years later that its pending application is still being reviewed. In the meantime, more than 2,000 local supporters have formed a “Farmingdale for Walmart” group in support of the expansion and have presented a petition with their signatures to the TOB.

The store expansion, said Philip Serghini, a spokesperson for Walmart, would make the Farmingdale operation the first Super Walmart on Long Island providing a full line of grocery choices, including fresh produce, meat, and deli items. It would also add approximately 85 additional jobs with benefits, he said, as well as an estimated 100 to 125 construction jobs and tens of thousands of dollars in local property taxes annually to help pay for community services like police and fire departments and schools.

“Since the 142,647 sq ft store was opened in 2007, it has been very popular and surrounded by a very supportive community,” said Serghini. “We have not heard much from the TOB except that the application is under consideration and they have moved only to request draft proposals on a traffic study. To have an application sitting for two years is a ‘red flag’ and we believe that it might point to lobbying and delays from the grocery union.”

Not so, says Tim Ruggeri, director of communications for the Town of Babylon.

“Route 110 is a major north-south corridor,” he explained. “The expansion application involves complex issues of traffic and garbage removal. We understand that they want to add more groceries to the store, which would cause more perishable goods to go to waste. We are looking at additional deliveries and changes to the immediate area. Our traffic engineer has some concerns. Of course, Supervisor Steve Bellone takes into consideration the calls from the store supporters but this is nothing more than a standard site review with very complex issues.”

Suffolk County Legislator DuWayne Gregory, whose district includes the Farmingdale Walmart area, said that his phones have been quiet concerning the Walmart expansion. Gregory has not seen the expansion plans but worries that additional customers will bring more traffic to the area.

“My concern is the traffic impact and suffering of local businesses,” he said. “Walmart has a reputation of slowly expanding in an area and driving out local business. Instead of residents going to their local grocery stores, they will do all of their shopping at Walmart.”

But the “Farmingdale for Walmart” group sees otherwise. “I think it’s long overdue that the town should be acting on this. The savings, convenience, new jobs and additional tax dollars that this store is expected to bring are all welcome additions to our town, especially in these tough economic times,” said Brian Watts, one of the group’s leaders.

A recent poll released in conjunction with Walmart Stores, Inc. showed that 79 percent of Farmingdale-area residents support the expansion of the Walmart store. Sheila Borgese, speaking on behalf of local consumers, said she is not surprised.

"Walmart has been a good neighbor in the Farmingdale community," she said. "Neighbors I talk to are excited to have an expanded selection of grocery and other goods at low prices. How could you not want that these days? This will be a big help to local families and senior citizens, and Walmart’s expansion would bring tax relief to a highly taxed area." The poll also found that 64 percent of respondents felt that grocery prices in the area are too high.

“We have no idea why the TOB Building Department and Planning Commissioner are taking so long to approve this proposal,” Watts said. “It is on vacant, adjacent land. It will expand our commercial tax base and provide much needed local jobs, savings and shopping choices to local residents. The Town needs to do its job and approve the expansion now."

The survey found that 85 percent of area residents felt that the Town has had enough time to make a decision.

Joseph Scura February 01, 2011 at 10:53 PM
Some of the comments in favor of this expansion are from people that do not live in East Farmingdale, and will not be directly impacted by the expansion. I would like to see how many of the 79% of "Farmingdale area" residents in favor of expansion and 85% of "area residents" who feel that the town has had enought time to make a decision actually live in the Town of Babylon area of E. Farmingdale. A number of people in favor of this expansion are from Plainview, Melville, N. Massapequa, etc. who will not be impacted by this expansion, except for the fact that they will have another place to shop that is not in their backyard. The Town of Babylon should look at these petitions and throw out those who aren't residents of E. Farmingdale in the TOB. Then we will truly see how many "area residents" are in favor of the expansion. I bet the number would be very small. This is another "Stop and Shop" scam of trying to sway the town board's decision with people that should have no say in the matter, and ram down the throats of the real "AREA RESIDENTS" their own agenda for making more profits. Would the residents of a neighboring town like it if I was in favor of, and tried to persuade their town board, to put in a mental health clinic, drug rehab center, or mega supermarket in their town, especially if it was near their home and would have a direct impact on them? I think not. Let the residents of East Farmingdale and the Town of Babylon decide themselves what is best for them.
Joseph Scura February 01, 2011 at 11:00 PM
Just to set the record straight, I am not posting that I am either for or against the Walmart expansion, just that many of those who are really pushing for it don't seem to be residents of East Farmingdale. Let the TOB and the local residents make the decision on what they feel is best for the area, that's all.
Diane Yander February 03, 2011 at 03:00 PM
I am in favor of expansion of East Farmingdale Walmart. I think it would help the economy by increasing jobs. Also can't see that it would be a problem for traffic. As the land is just sitting there now.
joe February 08, 2011 at 08:08 PM
This is stupid! we want to get grocery's alot cheaper, walmart is a great store. we live in north babylon and they already have the store and plenty of room. anyone who has been to florida that has shopped in the super stores knows it is much cheaper and you get more for the money. who is paying off the town of babylon shop and stop, waldbaums? besides walmart gives away so much to food banks and food pantry's. they give trucks away come on babylon pass this store a licence permit to expand.
East Daler April 16, 2011 at 07:28 PM
As residents of East Farmingdale we are already have too much traffic short cutting through our streets in the residential community. If the town can do something about lowering the amount of traffic in our neighborhoods, there would be more interest in promoting expansion of Walmart. We have too much thru traffic going through our neighborhoods. They speed and are distracted by using their phones while driving. Not to mention the garbage they throw out their windows for us to clean up. Can't vote for expansion until these problems are solved.


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