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Letter: Don’t Blame Biti For Tax Hike

We represent Biti LLC, the owner of the vacant 11.7-acre parcel in the village, south of the Roslyn viaduct. We write in response to your article (“Blame Tax Hike on Biti,” The Roslyn News, May 20) which summarized the village board’s recent “Letter to Residents,” attempting to justify the almost 16 percent tax hike for 2010-2011. That letter falsely attempts to blame the board’s exorbitant tax hike on Biti’s alleged decision to “abandon” and “walk away” from its 78-unit condominium project.

This is false. Biti did not walk away or abandon the project. Biti has always wanted to build and wants to build now. It would like nothing more than to put a shovel in the ground, build the condominiums, and make public improvements to the waterfront, all of which would create jobs, generate substantial tax revenues, and bring 78 new families to patronize the village’s stores, restaurants, and other facilities. So why is Biti not building? Because the board will not grant permission to develop this land, but would rather engage in lengthy and expensive litigation at substantial cost to the village. You may recall that the village litigated with Stop & Shop for almost nine years over the same parcel and is now engaged in litigation with Biti, which bought the property in 2003. The village has been deprived of hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenues for the last 15 years, while spending substantial sums on legal fees. How is this in the best interests of the village and its residents? In the interim, Biti has paid its property taxes for the last seven years, of approximately $500,000 each year for a total of approximately $3.5 million dollars paid to the village. The only ones to blame for the tax hike are the members of the village board.

Biti wants to build but is prohibited from doing so as a result of the onerous and illegal conditions and exactions imposed on them by the board – conditions Biti is challenging in Federal court. We also wish to correct a typographical error in your article. You reference that the village is being sued for $50,000. The correct figure is $50 million.

Rosenberg Calica & Birney LLP