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Court ruling sets stage for mobile home park evictions

Frontier mobile home park, located at 805 Broadway

Frontier mobile home park, located at 805 Broadway in North Amityville on March 11, 2014. Credit: Ed Betz

A State Supreme Court justice has ruled against residents of a North Amityville mobile home park facing redevelopment, setting the stage for evictions possibly beginning as soon as May.

Justice Joseph Pastoressa in Riverhead denied a request for preliminary injunctions and dismissed lawsuits filed by the Frontier Mobile Home Park's civic association.

Residents were given notice in 2011 that the park would be redeveloped. Owner H. Lee Blumberg told county officials he couldn't afford to install needed sewers or fix other health and safety violations, documents show.

The residents, many on fixed incomes, own their homes but pay about $600 a month to rent the land. R Squared Real Estate Partners of Plainview wants to build 500 apartments and 42,000 square feet of retail on the 20-acre site.

In 2012, the park's civic association filed several lawsuits over the development plan. One challenged the rezoning because a property owner's name was inconsistent on documents. Another case called the environmental review of the site inadequate. In his decision issued March 7, Pastoressa attributed the name inconsistency to a typographical error and said reports from the town showed officials "took a hard look" at environmental aspects of the project.

Residents also contended that under state law they had the right to make an offer on the property before it was sold. Pastoressa noted the sale of the property took place in August 2008, four months before the state law went into effect.

Pastoressa denied requests for preliminary injunctions in the three cases, ruling that residents had not demonstrated "an imminent threat of irreparable harm" because eviction proceedings had not begun. Because of the lack of sewers, he wrote, continued use as a mobile home park "cannot possibly be achieved regardless of the outcome of this litigation."

Pastoressa filed the decisions days after an appellate court ordered him to rule on the cases, noting the association's "due process and property rights have been adversely affected by the long delay." Arthur Morrison, the association's attorney, said he will appeal the decisions and request a different judge. "Our primary focus is to protect them [the residents] and their housing," he said. "They have no place to live."

R Squared has offered $20,000 per home in phase one of construction, paid in installments once the residents vacate the property, which must be before April 30.

Jennifer Appel, general counsel and program adviser for the Long Island Housing Partnership Inc., which is administering the relocation plan, said the organization has received applications from 50 of the 97 homes in phase one. She said several residents have already left the park and others have started receiving money in certain circumstances.

Gregg Rechler, managing partner for R Squared, said in a statement that with Pastoressa's ruling "those remaining members of the association now have clarity and for a short while will have the opportunity to take advantage of the relocation plan."

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