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Restraining order lifted on Oyster Bay land deal

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 judge Friday lifted a temporary restraining order blocking Oyster Bay Town from selling its public works complex in Syosset to a company opposed to a mall on adjoining property, but the lawsuit challenging the sale will go forward.

State Supreme Court Justice W. Gerard Asher vacated the restraining order after arguments by attorneys for the town and Taubman Centers Inc., which has been trying for 18 years to build a mall on the property north of the 54-acre public works complex.

The judge said no irreparable harm could happen without the restraining order. That is because of a separate lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Nassau over whether the town must hold a referendum on the sale.

A decision in that case is expected Monday.

Asher did not set a follow-up date for another hearing at Friday's session.

The lawsuit filed last month in Riverhead contends the town illegally handled the negotiations in trying to sell the public works site to Oyster Bay Realty LLC for $32.5 million. It 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.

In the Nassau case, residents opposed to the mall are challenging the petition submitted by Taubman seeking a referendum on the sale.

Justice F. Dana Winslow in State Supreme Court in Mineola ruled Thursday that sufficient valid signatures had been submitted on the petition. But he withheld decision on whether the wording of the petition was valid.

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