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Hempstead IDA returns to court in Green Acres Mall suit

The Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream.

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

The Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency returns to court Thursday over a lawsuit challenging its revocation of tax breaks for the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream.

Nassau Supreme Court Justice Timothy Driscoll last month temporarily halted the IDA’s attempts to overturn the tax breaks when he granted a temporary restraining order sought by the mall’s owner, California-based Macerich.

Driscoll directed Macerich to continue to make its payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, while the matter is in court. Macerich paid $1.88 million to the IDA in its latest PILOT payments this month, a source said.

In April, the IDA voted to revoke tax breaks for the mall and the adjacent shopping center, the Green Acres Commons, citing allegedly “grossly misstated” job creation as its justification.

Macerich filed a lawsuit in June, saying the IDA “acted in an arbitrary, capricious and unlawful manner.”

Lisa Cairo, an attorney for the IDA, and a Macerich spokesman declined to comment on Tuesday.

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

Meanwhile, two Valley Stream school districts are involved in their own court battle. Valley Stream District 24 is withholding more than $1.4 million from the central high school district over a dispute about how PILOTs are counted in a schools funding formula, a case that has its roots in the Green Acres’ PILOTs and subsequent backlash. The districts are due back in court in that case Friday.

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