Tuesday, July 7, 2009
This is "blighted"?
Two Elmont landlords are suing the Town of Hempstead over its decision to designate their properties as blighted in order to bring in a new supermarket, part of an effort to revitalize the area.
The blight designation paves the way for the town to condemn and acquire 29 small businesses including a discount store, a bar-restaurant and a mini mart.
Attorneys for two of the property owners, Tess Mittman and Jay Oberlander, claim the town-commissioned study that concluded the area was blighted was flawed.
"We think the blight study was biased and based on factual misstatements," A. Thomas Levin of Garden City said. Levin alleges in the petition, filed recently in State Supreme Court, that the consultant who performed the study had an interest in concluding the area was blighted because the same consultant was hired to draw up the subsequent urban renewal plan.
Town officials deny the suit's allegations and said that, after two years of public planning sessions, a majority of residents who attended favored a new supermarket on the site of the former Argo Theater.
Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray held a press conference Tuesday to say the litigation puts in danger $2.5 million in state grants the town received in 2008 to revitalize the site. She said the lawsuit is "meritless" and will not deter the town from preparing requests for proposals to interested developers. She was joined at the site by six civic leaders who praised the town's efforts.