A Nassau County judge ruled on Friday that the Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency illegally revoked the Green Acres Mall’s tax break agreement.
In a written decision, Supreme Court Judge Timothy Driscoll wrote that the Town of Hempstead IDA did not follow the law and abused its power in revoking the Green Acres Mall’s PILOT, or payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, agreement in April.
“In sum, it may well be that the IDA desires to terminate the PILOTs agreements,” Driscoll wrote. “It may be well that such a desire reflects the will of the IDA’s constituency. And it may be well that the IDA has a proper basis to take such action. The present record before the Court, however, demonstrates that the IDA did not have a properly articulated basis” to revoke the agreement.
The Town of Hempstead IDA voted to revoke the PILOT agreement after a public outcry against an increase in school taxes to make up for the loss of the mall’s tax base. The IDA cited the mall’s failure to create an agreed-upon number of jobs.
“Job creation is the most important aspect of a proposed PILOT agreement, in this board’s opinion, and there is precedent for revoking PILOTs for non-compliance in fulfilling employment representations, some for falling short of the promised numbers by only a few jobs,” the Hempstead IDA board said in a statement.
The IDA said it requested payroll records in February from Macerich, the mall’s California-based ownership. Macerich agreed that their development plans would create 355 full-time jobs in the first year and 570 by the second. The IDA claimed they had only received proof that 45 jobs were created, and that no information about the mall’s job maintenance rate was provided.
But in July, Driscoll halted the revocation. ““[The IDA] is restrained from terminating all agreements relating to Green Acres, LLC and Green Acres Adjacent, LLC,” he wrote.