Mineola residents on Bruce Terrace are being ordered to vacate properties, not due to seizure by eminent domain, but because they have allegedly encroached onto village-owned property.
The land in question is located east of Bruce Terrace and north of Westbury Avenue, which will be the site of a recharge basin constructed by the Town of North Hempstead in order to relieve flooding problems in the area, particularly in Carle Place.
Surveys have indicated that a number of residents on the east side of Bruce Terrace are occupying portions of village-owned property.
“What gave rise to this was the fact that the town has awarded its contract to do the work and has just advised us of their starting dates,” village attorney John Spellman said during a meeting of the Mineola Village Board on December 19 at the village hall. “So we have to get hustling to get this done. Those portions of the village-owned property, at least a great number of them, are going to be required for this project and so they have to be vacated.”
Some properties on the north end of Bruce Terrace would not be needed for the project and those homeowners would have an opportunity to either purchase the property they currently occupy at fair market value or to vacate the property.
The village board passed a resolution that residents occupying the village-owned land must vacate the property by Feb. 1, 2013.
The fair market value would be determined by the village’s appraiser and title to the property would have to be closed by April 1, 2013 or the homeowner must vacate the land. Homeowners wishing to purchase the property would be responsible for the costs of surveys for the preparations of deeds to their new lots.
Mayor Scott Strauss stated that the residents had not been informed as to the exact timeframes involved since it had not been approved before the meeting date but that he would hand deliver letters to each homeowner.
“I’ve had community forums, some residents from Bruce Terrace have come down here to those community forums, we’ve discussed that topic,” he said in response to a question posed by trustee Lawrence Werther. “I’ve mentioned it at board meetings, I’ve mentioned it when I’ve been in the area talking with them that the day is coming, Mr. Ryan was here, he mentioned it. They’re all aware that this is happening; it’s happening now. What they’re not aware of is the timeframes involved.”
“Most of them probably either with or without their knowledge know that over the years whether they did it or the prior owner did it, they know that they encroached on village property,” deputy mayor Paul Pereira said. “I don’t think that anyone’s going to be surprised by the fact that this is coming and we’ve known about this since we started this project. This is not so much about the recharge basin for the town; I would love an extra 30 feet, how many people would love an extra 30 feet of property that you’re not paying taxes on? It’s what’s right, it’s what’s right for the village, it’s what’s right even for those residents and once we became aware of that, it is our obligation to make it right.”
Residents do have the option of purchasing a portion of the property or the entire area of encroachment. The board would have to determine at a future date whether homeowners could purchase unused property that was originally designated for use by the Town of North Hempstead for the project.
“It might not be a good idea to allow a neighbor to buy a backyard behind you,” Spellman said.