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Judge restrains attempt to sell Oyster Bay complex

Simon Property Group has sided with residents near

Simon Property Group has sided with residents near the 39-acre former Cerro property in Syosset in their fight to stop the 750,000-square-foot mall proposed by Taubman Centers Inc. Photo Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile, 2004

A judge late Wednesday issued a restraining order prohibiting the Town of Oyster Bay from selling its public works complex to a group that opposes construction of an upscale mall on the adjacent property.

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Farneti in Riverhead signed the order prohibiting the town from transferring ownership of the property until papers are filed and arguments heard on June 28.

But the order will have no practical impact on the planned sale or the lawsuit filed Wednesday by Taubman Centers Inc. to try to block the sale of the 54-acre complex for $32.5 million to Oyster Bay Realty LLC.

Taubman owns the adjacent former Cerro Wire property and has tried to build a mall there for 18 years.

Town Supervisor John Venditto said "it's really moot." He said the sale couldn't be completed before June 30 because the contract gives the buyer until then to review the deal and conduct environmental reviews of the land.

Taubman confirmed it still will submit petitions to the town Thursday to force a referendum on the sale under town law. That would preclude signing the contract until the vote in August.

For those reasons, Venditto said, the town did not oppose Taubman's motion for the restraining order.

Venditto said "Taubman failed in its attempt to void the town resolution authorizing the land sale, and more importantly failed in its attempt to prevent the townwide referendum which will allow our residents to decide the issue."

The lawsuit filed Wednesday says the town failed to carry out its fiduciary responsibility by maximizing the price for the property. Taubman claims the town should have held a formal bidding process with proper notification or listed the property for sale with a real estate broker and then accepted the best offer, which would have been made by Taubman.

"I am confident that this is just the beginning and the judge will grant us the relief we are seeking in setting aside this transaction," said Taubman attorney Ronald J. Rosenberg of Garden City.


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