An attempt by the Village of Atlantic Beach to seize Chabad property at the foot of the Atlantic Beach Bridge ended up in Federal court last week.
Seven representatives of Long Beach-based Chabad of the Beaches sat on the right side of a courtroom in the US Courthouse in Central Islip, while three village representatives sat on the left.
For nearly six hours, the parties took turns stating their case before Justice Joanna Seybert, who is expected to render a decision within the next four months. The dispute involves property at 2025 and 2035 Park St., which Chabad bought last November for $950,000. The village is seeking to block Chabad’s use of the site by seizing it under eminent domain.
Chabad claims that anti-Semitism is propelling the village’s action and submitted as evidence anti-Semitic Facebook posts from the private Village of Atlantic Beach group.
Chabad noted that though the village may have been looking at the property one year before Chabad bought it, the village evidenced no urgency to take the land until Chabad held a candle lighting event at the site last December.
One day after the ceremony, the village’s attorney, Dominick Minerva, filed an environmental assessment form. Ten days after the ceremony, the board voted to go through with eminent domain and held a public hearing about it one month later.
In its defense, the village said there was no malicious intent and the timing was coincidental.
The property, which includes a former Capital One branch building, is visible to everyone entering the community from the bridge. A Chabad center will typically display a large menorah, and in this case such a menorah could be made visible to everyone driving off the bridge.
Reporting by Lisa Maragria, Nassau Herald.