The Town of Oyster Bay will not sell a parcel of land in Syosset because it is protected from development by New York State, town officials said Thursday.
The town last week tabled a resolution that would have declared a 3½-acre parcel on Terrehans Lane to be surplus and paved the way for it to be sold.
An undated letter released by the town Thursday evening and signed by Oyster Bay special counsel Thomas Sabellico said the town was bound by a “Letters Patent” issued by New York State that stated the land must be used for “park, recreation, and playground purposes . . . forever” or else the land’s title would revert to the state.
The town’s proposal to sell the property created an uproar among area residents who long used the land for recreation, some of whom told the town board they had purchased their homes with the understanding that the parcel was protected from development.
Charles Schulman, 63, an accountant who lives adjacent to the parcel, told the town board on Sept. 18 that he bought his home “knowing . . . they could never build on this land.”
In his letter, Sabellico wrote that Letters Patents were “antiquated documents which date back to the 1600s” and that the fact that a historical change in the section block and lot numbers of the parcel may account for the fact that the patent “was not discovered prior to Sept. 18, 2018.”
Newsday obtained the Letters Patent from the Nassau County clerk’s office Thursday morning by requesting property information in person after a search of the county’s online deeds failed to produce any records. The county clerk’s office produced a copy of the land patent dated Aug. 16, 1968, which granted three parcels from the state to Oyster Bay — including the Terrehans Lane parcel under a different identifying number — for $1 for recreational use.
Questions about the status of the land last week prompted Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) to write in a Sept. 19 email to town spokesman Brian Nevin that there was a “well-deserved measure of concern” over whether the land could be sold. Nevin responded that day to Lavine that the town attorney was looking into whether the land was preserved but “has found no such documentation to believe that this property holds parkland status.” Nevin then asked Lavine to try to get the state to buy from Oyster Bay the property that “could otherwise be threatened by development.”
The town board in July hired Huntington-based Lynch Appraisal Ltd. to appraise the property for a $3,000 fee. The company valued the property at $3.3 million according to an Aug. 30 town memorandum.
Nevin said in an email Thursday, “The town is concerned that appraisal did not include this parkland status as its designation clearly impacts valuation of the property.”
A call to Lynch Appraisal was not returned.