The Lawrence School District is planning to add up to 14 parking spaces and reconfigure the site of the Lawrence Primary School at the Number Two School campus for recreational purposes.
To do that the school district is seeking to acquiring the bordering property at 287 Mott Ave. in Inwood through eminent domain. Eminent domain is the right of a government or an agent acting for that government to annex private property for public use, with “just” compensation being paid to the owner.
A public hearing is scheduled to be on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 8 p.m., at Lawrence High School, 2 Reilly Road in Cedarhurst on the potential transaction. However, sources told the Herald that the hearing will most likely be adjourned to a later date within roughly four weeks. The Board of Education is highly likely to have a special meeting or go into executive session and then adjourn the hearing.
According to the Nassau County Department of Assessment, the full market value of the house is listed as $390,000. It was sold for $385,000 on Sept. 11, according to realtor.com. Property taxes for 2020 are listed as $4,279.09, according to the county. Al D’Agostino, the lawyer for the school district, said an LLC, a limited liability company owns the property.
The two-story, 1,072-square-foot house, built in 1920, is on a 5,652-square-foot lot, and is listed as having seven rooms, three bedrooms, one bathroom, and a detached garage according to multiple real estate websites. It is currently occupied by a family, said neighbors immediately across the street. No one was home when the Herald was there.
Based on county records the ownership of the house has been transferred three other times, August 2006, for zero dollars as a sale between relatives; a year earlier, also for zero dollars as a sale between relatives and in December 2003 it was purchased for $255,000.
District residents can speak at the public, submit a written statement and other documents regarding the planned acquisition of the lot. Property owners who want to challenge the possible condemnation through judicial review, can do so only on the issues, facts and objections raised at a public hearing.
After the hearing is held, the school district will have an appraiser value the property. A price is tendered and submitted to the court in what is called a vesting order. After the order is signed, “Technically we own the property,” D’Agostino said, adding that there would be a “reasonable period for the occupants to leave the property.” The owner can dispute the value but that does not stop the acquisition of the site, D’Agostino said.
A married couple, both lifelong Inwood residents, who live directly across from the house, said they had “no problem with it,” meaning the school district taking the property for the parking spots. Their question was why didn’t the district buy the house when it was for sale. Both declined to give their names. The woman said she was considering attending the meeting and speaking on the matter.
D’Agostino said that the district did contact the owner when the property was for sale. “We reached but no one got back to us,” he said.