Watch CBS News

Eminent Domain Threatens Islandia Organic Farm And Horse Barns For Those With Special Needs

ISLANDIA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- An organic farm and horse barns are being threatened as part of an eminent domain fight.

A village on Long Island that's simply outgrown its public works yard needs more space. But as CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Monday, many people with special needs are now caught in the middle.

At the horse therapy farm, children with disabilities and their parents were startled to learn their village officials in Islandia want to condemn a 1.7-acre property next to the farm on Old Nichols Road and seize it by eminent domain.

"A shock since we have been contracted to purchase the property since October 2017," said Lisa Gatti of Pal-O-Mine Equestrian.

The property in question, which is owned by two sisters and up to date on its taxes, is in the midst of being sold to the non-profit Pal-O-Mine to expand its services.

CBS2's McLogan wanted to speak to mayor about eminent domain seizure, but she was told the mayor was unavailable. However, others said that particular parcel, which is closer to the Long Island Expressway, is ideal to expand the village public works yard. The current yard, filled with trucks and plows, sits behind Village Hall, adjacent to a sump.

"People with disabilities ride, so noise from the trucks if they backfire, could spook a horse, throw a rider," Pal-O-Mine volunteer Ellen Lear said.

A new public works yard would sit between Pal-O-Mine's horse barns and its organic farm where independent life skills are taught.

"Some of them use wheelchairs, walkers, and other assist devices, and as you can see down Old Nichols Road, there are no sidewalks out there. So, it's not safe to move back and forth between the two properties," said Gregory McEnroe, whose son is autistic.

"That is definitely dangerous. You might get hurt or run over by a truck or a car," Timothy McEnroe added.

With 500 weekly clients, the horse therapy farm hopes Islandia will reconsider.

"Pal-O-Mine doesn't really have an alternative," Gatti said.

Village officials, without explanation, have postponed a public hearing and now indicate they may review options other than seizing this site for their public works yard.

Village officials said they would hold a public hearing before seizing any property, and that they would have to pay fair market value of $745,000 for the Old Nichols Road site.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.