A landscaping equipment shop wants to move back to Mineola after getting mowed over in Williston Park.
Liffco Power Equipment plans to take over an industrial building at 42 E. Second St. to sell and repair lawn mowers and other equipment for landscapers.
The family-owned business, founded in 1919, is currently located at 294 Hillside Ave. in Williston Park, where it faced a battle with village officials last year over whether it could operate there.
Darryl Murray, Liffco’s fourth-generation owner, wants a fresh start back in Mineola, he told the Village Board on Wednesday. The business was located at 99 Jericho Turnpike before moving to Williston Park.
“We try and really help all of our customers from start to finish, and many of our customers we’ve had for 30, 40 years. It’s unbelievable,” Murray said. “This new location will help us to grow our business, better serve our customers and the community.”
But village officials were skeptical, saying Liffco racked up thousands of dollars in fines — including more than $4,400 in parking tickets — and questioning Murray’s claims about how the business operates.
The Village Board postponed a decision on Murray’s application Wednesday night.
“When you say you want to be a great partner, you haven’t shown it. You haven’t been there,” Mayor Scott Strauss told Murray.
Murray plans to purchase the Second Street building, located just east of Roslyn Road, which currently houses the Portuguese market Carvalho Imports.
Liffco would be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. The business has a total of 10 employees, five of whom work in the repair shop, Murray said.
Repair services, largely for equipment it sells, account for 70 percent of Liffco’s business, while retail sales account for about 30 percent, Murray said.
Murray’s lawyer, Albert DeMarco, said the business would be consistent with other buildings in the area, which is zoned for manufacturing. The property is bordered by other industrial buildings to the south and a residential neighborhood to the north.
But Strauss and other trustees expressed concerns about how deliveries of large equipment could cause traffic congestion and create noise on the property.
Responding to concerns from village trustees, Murray said “90 percent” of repairs are done indoors. Employees sometimes run equipment for tests outside, he said.
Trustee Dennis Walsh questioned that, saying he saw a snow blower being repaired outdoors Wednesday afternoon at the Williston Park location.
Equipment was also being displayed outside in the parking lot, Walsh said.
“I really didn’t see much regard for the community when you were there [in Mineola] in the past,” Walsh said.
Murray met similar concerns before the Village of Williston Park Board of Zoning Appeals last year, when an attorney of his said repairs account for only 11 percent of his business. Neighbors also complained about noise from mowers and other equipment running outside.
In December, Liffco was denied an exception to zoning rules that it needed to operate in Williston Park, village Building Inspector Kerry Collins said.
The village has issued Liffco 15 summonses for village code violations, only three of which are outstanding, Collins said. The other 12 were dismissed after Murray paid a lump sum fine and pledged to find a new location.
Murray said the problems in Williston Park arose because his previous lawyer told him he needed no special permits. He pledged to clear up the outstanding fines in Mineola, which he said were accumulated when his father owned the business.
Murray said he runs Liffco differently and promised to keep traffic under control and limit the amount of repairs done outside.
“I don’t want to have any of this stuff over my head, and I have to say that I’m sorry,” he said.