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Smithtown looks to avoid eminent domain in acquiring Nesconset property

In this view looking south, the town of

In this view looking south, the town of Smithtown is proposing the creation of a new intersection to replace the one currently located near the Nesconset Fire Department at Lake Avenue and Gibbs Pond Road. (July 15, 2013) Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Smithtown Town Board members decided Tuesday to contact the owner of a 3,000-square-foot property near a busy Nesconset intersection in an effort to obtain the land and create a safer roadway.

Officials at the town board’s work session said they preferred negotiating with the owner directly for the property — located at Lake Avenue and Gibbs Pond Road — rather than pursuing the lengthy eminent domain process, also a possibility.

“Eminent domain should always be the last resort of government,” councilman Kevin Malloy said.

Realigning the intersection would allow the Nesconset Fire Department to more easily maneuver its trucks, officials said.

“We should prepare an appraisal, get a value of the property and then just try to negotiate with the person directly,” town attorney John Zollo said. “If we don’t get a response, then we have to proceed with .?.?. eminent domain law.”

Smithtown planner Frank DeRubeis said Tuesday he met with Jerry Chasteen, co-owner of 99 Lake Avenue LLC, a St. James construction company that owns 2 acres on which the 3,000-square-foot property is located. Chasteen, who declined to comment Tuesday, has said he plans to build a medical office on the property.

“We’re going to design something, see what’s left over,” DeRubeis said, of working with Chasteen’s architect.

In order to develop the medical building, Chasteen might need the sewage flow rights on the parcel that the town is interested in, rights DeRubeis said are worth about $10,000. Councilman Edward Wehrheim said that the owner could turn the smaller parcel over to the town “in return for transfer of development rights” that might be needed for the medical office.

Councilman Thomas McCarthy said the town plans to do a survey of the land, adding, “Hopefully it will work out with the owner, so we can get this done before the end of the paving season in late October.”

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