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Green Acres Mall lawsuit over tax breaks adjourned until October

The Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream.

The Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency and the owner of the Green Acres Mall agreed Thursday to adjourn court appearances until October in a lawsuit challenging the revocation of tax breaks for the mall.

Attorneys for the IDA and Macerich, the California-based owner of the Valley Stream mall, are to return to court on Oct. 24 before Nassau Supreme Court Justice Timothy Driscoll.

Last month, Driscoll temporarily halted the IDA’s attempts to undo tax breaks for the mall and the adjacent shopping center, the Green Acres Commons, when he granted a temporary restraining order sought by Macerich. He suggested a “cooling-off” period so both sides could continue their discussions outside court.

“The matter was adjourned to foster that conversation,” Driscoll said in court on Thursday.

Matthew Didora, an attorney for Macerich, said Thursday that the company also is involved in a separate tax grievance case that has an Oct. 3 deadline for property appraisals. He asked for the next court date for the lawsuit be after that.

Lisa Cairo, an attorney for the IDA, agreed to the adjournment as long as Macerich’s payments-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, payments continue to be made. Macerich paid $1.88 million to the IDA in its latest PILOT payments this month and the next payment is due in October. When determining the figures for Macerich’s PILOT agreements, the IDA used what it assumed the court would set as the taxes in the grievance case, officials have said.

The IDA voted in April to revoke Macerich’s tax breaks, saying the company “grossly misstated” its job creation numbers. Macerich filed a lawsuit in response last month, arguing the IDA “acted in an arbitrary, capricious and unlawful manner.”

Some Valley Stream taxpayers and elected officials have blamed the mall and commons’ tax breaks for an increase in residents’ school tax bills. IDA officials, however, maintain school budgeting practices are at fault.

On Friday, two Valley Stream school districts are due in court in a separate lawsuit. The central high school district sued District 24 to recoup more than $1.4 million in tax dollars that the elementary district is withholding over a dispute — which stems from the Green Acres’ PILOTs — about how PILOTs are counted in a school’s funding formula.

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