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Long IslandSuffolk

Islandia homeowners surprised by village's eminent domain plan

The residents say they did not know of the village's proposal to seize the property on Old Nichols Road to build a new public works and truck yard facility. 

Islandia officials have set a public hearing on

Islandia officials have set a public hearing on a plan to seize a home on Old Nichols Road. Photo Credit: Raychel Brightman

Islandia Village officials are proposing to seize a residential property by eminent domain, and the homeowners said they did not know about the plan a day before a public hearing was initially scheduled.

Village officials said they are seeking to condemn a 1.7-acre property on Old Nichols Road to build a new public works and truck yard facility.

The owners, sisters Fran Gandarillas  and Angela Camarda, said they learned of the plan when they were contacted by a Newsday reporter on Monday. They questioned how the village could take their property, citing that it is up to date on taxes and is under contract to be sold.

“We know nothing further unfortunately,” Gandarillas, 50, said Monday. “We thought it was some kind of prank.”

Officials did not immediately say how they sought to notify the property owners.

The village has outgrown its current public works yard behind village hall, and officials have been looking for a property to store equipment for several years, Village Attorney Joseph W. Prokop said, noting a preference for a location on the north side of the Long Island Expressway.

“This would allow the village to better service roadways and provide other services in this part of the village,” Prokop said in a statement.

The Old Nichols Road property has been used as a day care center called “The Nursery School, Too,” according to state records. It is surrounded by homes and a nonprofit equestrian center serving people with special needs in a largely residential area.

The village would have to pay fair market value for the property, which is approximately $745,000, according to calculations by Newsday based on information from the Islip Town Assessor’s office.  

Officials said they commenced eminent domain proceedings against a nearby property two years ago and stopped the effort because of an unrelated issue of illegal action, which they did not immediately specify.

In eminent domain cases, municipalities have to notify property owners within 10 to 30 days of a public hearing either in person or by certified mail, but an “inadvertent failure to notify” them may not affect the validity of municipalities’ claim on the property, according to state law.

Village spokesman Hank Russell said a public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7, despite a public notice listing it for July 31 — a discrepancy he attributed to an error. The hearing will be at 6 p.m. at village hall.

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