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Cerro Wire property hearing postponed till Friday

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. Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile, 2004

A court hearing scheduled on Wednesday in Riverhead on Oyster Bay Town's plan to sell its public works complex in Syosset to a company opposed to a mall on an adjacent property was rescheduled for Friday.

State Supreme Court Justice W. Gerard Asher scheduled oral arguments on the case for Friday morning. A temporary restraining order blocking the sale of the 54 acres remains intact.

Taubman Centers Inc., which owns the former Cerro Wire site and has been battling the town to build an upscale mall there for 18 years, filed a lawsuit last month arguing that the town illegally handled the negotiations in trying to sell the Department of Public Works site to Oyster Bay Realty LLC for $32.5 million.

The Taubman lawsuit also claims the town illegally declared the property surplus when the deal allows the town to own and use the property for up to eight years.

Meanwhile, a hearing is scheduled for Thursday on another lawsuit stemming from the proposed land sale. Taubman last month collected signatures on a petition trying to force a referendum on the sale, and mall opponents filed a lawsuit challenging the petition and the signatures on it.

Justice Dana Winslow in state Supreme Court in Mineola has scheduled a hearing on that case Thursday A temporary restraining order prohibiting the town from moving ahead with the referendum remains in effect.

The lawsuit claims some signatures on a petition seeking the vote are invalid because they are not from registered town voters and that they were fraudulently obtained because the canvassers who collected them and witnessed them for Taubman are not registered voters in the state as required.

On Tuesday, Winslow instructed the Nassau County Board of Elections to complete its review of the signatures by Thursday. Taubman submitted to the town a petition with 8,302 signatures; under state law, 4,599 valid signatures are required to force a public vote.

The referendum would be held Aug. 20 unless the lawsuit invalidates the petition.

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