Mysterious research island could see residential development
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is planning to shut down the animal disease research facility on Plum Island, a 840-acre island in Long Island Sound, the Hartford Courant reported. The government-owned island, long closed to the public due to the biomedical research that goes on there, is valued at somewhere between $50 and $80 million, according to the Courant. The federal government is now accepting public input on what should happen to the island. Options listed in a recently released Environmental Impact Statement include building about 90 housing units for 200 residents on two or three acres each, or 750 residential units, mostly second homes and rentals. The island has never had a zoning designation because it has been a federal property since 1901. But the Long Island town of Southold — which counts the island as part of its jurisdiction — said it intends to assign it to a development zone before the end of the year.
Trenton mayor arrested on corruption charges
Trenton Mayor Tony Mack was arrested last month on charges of scheming to sell city property at a fraction of its value in exchange for some $119,000 in bribes, the New York Times reported. Federal prosecutors say Mack, his brother, and his chief political benefactor, Joseph Giorgianni, arranged to receive bribes from two men who had approached the city about building a parking garage on Trenton’s East State Street. The would-be developers were in fact cooperating with federal prosecutors, who recorded the conversations. Giorgianni, acting as the middleman, allegedly accepted several bribes intended for the mayor and said the city would sell the land for less than half of its assessed value if they paid an additional $100,000 to be split among the mayor, Giorgianni and another official. The site of the proposed parking garage, at 142–144 East State Street, is currently a 7,242-square-foot parking lot owned by the city and assessed at $278,000, according to the Times of Trenton. Mack recently put his Trenton house on the market, along with two other properties he owns.
Sale prices on the rise, but more homeowners are underwater
This year, home prices in Nassau and Suffolk counties in August were higher than August 2011, Newsday reported last month. According to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, the median Nassau home price saw a 4.8 percent jump over last year, while Suffolk saw a more modest increase of just under 1 percent. The median Nassau sale price in August was $435,000, and $322,360 in Suffolk. Sales velocity in the two counties has also increased, with the number of home sales up 12.2 percent in Nassau and 1.8 percent in Suffolk. Nassau’s sharp price increase is likely due partly to strength in the luxury market, brokers told Newsday, as well as buyers looking to take advantage of lower mortgage interest rates. At the same time, however, Long Island has seen an increase in the number of homeowners underwater on their mortgages: In Nassau and Suffolk counties in the second quarter, 48,546 homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth. That amounts to 9 percent of all homeowners with mortgages, compared to 8.4 percent during the same period of last year.
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