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Nassau judge recuses herself in case against Rockville Centre planning board


Acting Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Denise Sher recused herself on March 12 from hearing the case of two Rockville Centre homeowners against the village’s planning board.

“This matter will be forwarded to the Differentiated Case Management Office for purposes of reassignment to another Justice of this Court,” states a court document signed by Sher on March 12 and filed the next day.

It is unclear why Judge Sher recused herself from the case. Daniel Bagnuola, a spokesman for the Nassau County courts, said judges are not required to give a reason for recusal, and that they are prohibited from commenting on pending cases.

James and Brett O’Reilly filed an Article 78 proceeding — used to appeal the decision of a state or local agency — on Nov. 20 after the board halted their plan on Nov. 15 to split their land into six single-family plots.

The application to demolish the site’s circa 1900 home — St. Mark’s United Methodist Church’s former parsonage — and subdivide the property was opposed by neighbors who were concerned about overdevelopment and dedicated to preserving what they considered a historic house.

Many also challenged the legality of a new street, to be called Killarney Lane, which would be built perpendicular to Hempstead Avenue, to allow access to the four homes planned for the rear of the property.

The board voted to reject the proposal, 3-1. Its decision “is arbitrary, irrational and is not supported by the substantial evidence in the record and is based upon an error of law,” according to the Nov. 20 petition submitted by attorney Christian Browne, who is representing the O’Reillys.

In a document submitted to the court on Dec. 19, the planning board’s acting chairman, Thomas Gallucci, noted a portion of the village code upon which the board based its denial — “compatibility with the proposed development of the site and to existing buildings in the adjoining area.”

The case will now be heard by Judge Randy Sue Marber, Bagnuola said, and the next appearance date is scheduled for April 1.