Group sues to halt Hempstead sales to developer

An artist's rendering of the proposed development on An artist's rendering of the proposed development on North Main Street in Hempstead Village. Photo Credit: Handout

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A group of Hempstead Village residents and business owners has filed a lawsuit to stop the sale of village-owned properties to the master developer of the downtown revitalization project.

Ashraf Khan, Zetta Filiotis and Seymour Edwards have sued the village's board of trustees, its mayor, its Community Development Agency and developer Renaissance Downtowns UrbanAmerica, in Nassau County Supreme Court under an Article 78 proceeding. The action requests an appeal of a decision by a state or local agency.

The residents and business owners allege that village officials and the developers conspired to illegally withhold information about a land-sale agreement, which allows the master developer to purchase all village-owned properties downtown.

The three residents filed their joint petition Aug. 29. They want the court to declare as illegal a public hearing on Feb. 7 on the master developer agreement and the subsequent adoption of the land-sale agreement on Feb. 9. They also claimed that there was insufficient notice about the hearing.

"We want the village to have another hearing on the agreements with full disclosure," said Khan, 67, owner of A&C Wines and Liquors on Main Street for 20 years. He also said he was worried the redevelopment would displace small businesses and residents.

The designation of the master developer at the February meeting came only after officials promised to create a community benefits agreement that would incorporate jobs for local residents, contracts for local businesses and address other public concerns.

"The judge has already denied a request for a temporary restraining order, and we feel confident that when presented with the facts the court will render a speedy and favorable decision," village attorney Debra Urbano-Disalvo said in a statement.

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Katherine Garry, who leads the Committee to Save Hempstead and spearheaded the lawsuit, is holding a meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Economic Opportunity Commission of Nassau County Building.

Garry, of Rockville Centre, said the information about properties to be sold was not available before the hearing. Among them were the Village Hall and village police department headquarters, totaling $53 million, Garry alleged.

Donald Monti, chief executive of Renaissance Downtowns, said, the sale of municipal sites would allow officials the option of redoing the facilities, but paid for by the developers.

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