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Judge: Muttontown moratoriums legal

Muttontown officials acted legally in imposing back-to-back subdivision moratoriums, a federal judge has ruled, dismissing a lawsuit against the village.

A family seeking to build several homes on its 98-acre property had sued Muttontown, alleging the 2010 and 2011 bans were unconstitutional and were the product of the administration's political agenda.

The case was dismissed in its entirety late last month by U.S. District Court Judge E. Thomas Boyle. Muttontown attorney Steven Leventhal Tuesday said the village was "very pleased" with the court's decision.

"It clearly rejected the argument that the moratorium was either illegal or enacted for anything but proper reasons," said Leventhal, of Roslyn. "The village administration will continue to act to advance the best interests of the residents."

Muttontown officials have said the consecutive moratoriums -- adopted in May 2010 and again in July 2011 -- allowed them to review the village's master plan.

Officials voted in April to end the second ban, saying strides made with the plan no longer warranted it.

Boyle dismissed the case in part because the Hall family, which owns the land through its company Easton Llc, did not seek "to obtain just compensation" in state courts. He also ruled any alleged political reasons behind the bans had nothing to do with their legality.

"While Easton asserts that the stated purpose of the moratoria -- to review the Village's master plan -- is actually a pretext for the Village's real motivation and bad faith effort to devalue the Property . . . the Village's subjective motivation in enacting the moratoria is irrelevant," he wrote in an opinion filed April 27. The judgment closing the case was filed May 2.

The Hall family never submitted an updated subdivision application -- the family has alluded to the futility of such a move considering the bans -- and thus was never rejected by Muttontown or discriminated against, Boyle said.

The Halls' attorney, Stephen Conlon of Cold Spring Harbor, said Tuesday, "I think the decision is going to be overturned on appeal," adding, with the moratorium lifted, the Hall family planned to file a subdivision application "very soon."

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