Taubman Centers Inc. has scored a win against the town of Oyster Bay in its 13-years-and-counting quest to develop a luxury shopping center on the former Cerro Wire manufacturing complex, a 39-acre site in Syosset, N.Y.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Spinner ruled that the town must issue the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based REIT a special use permit for the Mall at Oyster Bay. Spinner's decision also requires the town to report back to the court within 90 days to make sure it has followed his orders. But the town plans to appeal the decision, says Town Supervisor John Venditto, one of the seven people who sit on the town's board and one of the six members who voted against the mall. “In my view, this order is dangerously crossing the line between the judicial community and legislative community,” he says.
Taubman's application for the special use permit dates back to 1997, according to Sy Gruza, a partner at Weber Law Group, the Melville, N.Y.-based law firm that represents Taubman in the litigation. This new decision follows the court's decision in June 2007, which set a 90-day final deadline for the town to either identify evidence it alleged could justify a demand for a supplemental environmental impact statement or else issue the special use permit in compliance with the court's initial July 2002 order.
Gruza says the court's decision indicates that the town had no evidence, and therefore no reason to delay the special use permit. “We believe that the town interveners have attempted to stall the special use permit in hopes that Taubman would just give up,” he asserts. Gruza says the appeal would be the town's final hope of stopping Taubman from developing the $500 million project. The appeal process would likely take seven to 12 months, so Taubman does not expect to receive the permit until January or February 2009 — provided that the town does not win the appeal.