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Legal challenges over Syosset sites continue

Syosset residents rally to protest the Taubman company's

Syosset residents rally to protest the Taubman company's continued efforts to build a large mall at the old Cerro Wire company site -- a mall that residents say is too big for the area. (Nov. 6, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

A court hearing yesterday on a lawsuit seeking to block a referendum on the Town of Oyster Bay’s planned sale of its public works complex was adjourned until tomorrow.

A restraining order prohibiting the town from moving ahead with the referendum on the $32.5 million sale of the Syosset site remains in effect.

Last month, residents opposed to a mall on the former Cerro Wire site filed a legal challenge to a referendum that could advance the proposal if approved. They claim some signatures on a petition seeking the vote are invalid and were fraudulently obtained.

Justice Dana Winslow in State Supreme Court in Mineola yesterday instructed the Nassau County Board of Elections by tomorrow to review the signatures on 287 pages of the petition seeking the referendum that the board had not yet reviewed. The judge told the board to determine if those who had signed were registered voters in the town and the witnesses who gathered the signatures were state residents, as required.

Taubman Centers Inc., developer of a proposed mall on the adjacent site, submitted to the town last month a petition with 8,302 signatures seeking a referendum on selling the 54-acre complex to Oyster Bay Realty LLC. 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.

Taubman has filed a lawsuit arguing that the town illegally handled the sale negotiations and declared the property surplus when the deal allows the town to continue to own and use the property for up to eight years. A separate temporary restraining order blocks action on the sale in that case, pending a hearing today in state Supreme Court in Riverhead.

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