Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Cablevision Editorial Hits Venditto on Development

Venditto fights a mall in Syosset but approves Stop & Shop in Farmingdale. Venditto vows to continue to fight mall developer but ignores Farmingdale residents.

From Cablevisions' Peter Kohler...
"In Bleak House, Charles Dickens famously describes a lawsuit that drones on endlessly, becoming "so complicated that no man alive knows what it means." Dickens could have been describing a zoning case involving plans for a Syosset shopping mall on the site of the old Cerro Wire factory, a case so contentious, and murky that it could become a legend in litigation.

In deciding the case recently, Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Spinner declared that the Town of Oyster Bay and its lawyers had engaged in "persistent obfuscatory obstructionism." Try saying that ten times.

No doubt, Judge Spinner was exasperated. For seven years, state trial and appellate courts have been trying to resolve this dispute over the Taubman organization's plan to build the shopping mall on this industrial site. The town has refused to change its zoning rules, saying the mall would cause excessive traffic, congesting streets in residential areas.

Four times courts have ruled against the town, dismissing its environmental arguments about traffic congestion and its other objections. Meanwhile, the developers agreed to substantially reduce the size of the mall.

Now, Judge Spinner has ordered the town to issue a special use permit to build the smaller mall. Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto says he plans yet another appeal.

There's no doubt that a shopping mall is an appropriate use on this site, which has long been zoned for office buildings or light industry.

We don't know whether Long Island needs another shopping mall. But it sure needs a better process for protecting property rights when towns misuse their zoning powers to obstruct development."

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