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Islandia drops plan to take property by eminent domain

Lisa Gatti, founder of Pal-O-Mine Equestrian in Islandia,

Lisa Gatti, founder of Pal-O-Mine Equestrian in Islandia, plans to expand its programs. Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Islandia Village officials are no longer pursuing eminent domain on a property that now belongs to a nonprofit horse therapy farm, Mayor Allan Dorman said Tuesday.

Dorman called the subject of seizing the property a “non-issue” since Pal-O-Mine Equestrian closed on the 1.7-acre residential site last month. Officials had considered converting the Old Nichols Road property into a new truck and public works yard before the sale was final.  

“We’re not even going in that direction now. There are other properties that we’re considering,” Dorman said at a village board meeting.

The plan to condemn the Old Nichols Road property came as a surprise to the owners at the time, who said they learned about it when a Newsday reporter called for comment. The property was then under contract.

Village officials later postponed an Aug. 7 public hearing on the proposal. Pal-O-Mine closed on the property two weeks later – the same day founder Lisa Gatti celebrated her 51st birthday, she said, calling it the "best birthday present."

Gatti declined to disclose the price, and Suffolk County property records have not been updated with the sale.

With the purchase, the nonprofit now owns four contiguous properties totaling 13 acres, Gatti said. The new site will make it safer for clients to travel between programs and will expand a vocational program for people with disabilities, those impacted by domestic violence and veterans, Gatti said. 

“This is our dream actually since we moved here in 2004,” Gatti said, noting “it would be a shame” for the village to take the property.

Elizabeth Hayes, who lives next door to the property, said she is “happy” that village officials dropped the plan for now but is worried about whether they would use eminent domain in the future.

“I’m concerned when he says they’re looking for another property,” she said of the mayor. “It makes me uneasy.”

Dorman said officials want to add a public works yard on the north side of the 2.2-square-mile village for faster response times during storms. He said last month that officials did not know the property was for sale when they planned the public hearing.

“We’re not here to hurt anybody,” he said after Tuesday's meeting. “We’re going to find a piece [of land] to serve us better in the wintertime.”

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