The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEONARD D. WEXLER
Norman E. Blankman ("Blankman"), Milton Gaskill ("Gaskill"), James D. Broach ("Broach"), Vincent F. Cioci ("Cioci"), Nassau/Suffolk Neighborhood Network, Inc. ("NSNN") and Taxpayers to Reclaim Mitchel Field ("TRMF") (collectively, "plaintiffs") bring this action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 and state law theories including fraud, unconstitutional gift of public property and "common law riparian principles" against the County of Nassau, the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Nassau, John B. Kiernan, Joseph Mondello, Gregory Peterson, James Bennett, Joseph Colby, Hannah Komanoff, Bruce Nyman, Alan Parente, Michael Tully, Alphonse D'Amato and Vincent Suozzi as members of the Nassau County Board of Supervisors, Francis Purcell, as Nassau County Executive ("Nassau County Defendants"); Joseph Margiotta, as Chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee; Abe Seldin as the Chairman of the Nassau County Board of Assessors; the Town of Hempstead, the Town Board of the Town of Hempstead, the Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency ("THIDA"), Thomas Gulotta and Joseph Mondello as Town of Hempstead Presiding Supervisors, Gregory Peterson as Town of Hempstead Supervisor, Eugene Weisbein as a Town of Hempstead Councilman and Kurt Mohr as Town of Hempstead Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development (the "Town Defendants"); and Coliseum Hotel Associates ("CHA"), L.B. Realty Co. and nine other Mitchel Field lessees ("lessee defendants") (collectively, "defendants").
Blankman is a real estate developer who, in the late 1970's, sought the adoption of a particular comprehensive plan for the development of the area in and around Mitchel Field. Blankman now alleges that in 1979, defendant Purcell offered him an opportunity to build an office building at Mitchel Field, but only on the condition that he drop his opposition to the defendants' development plans and practices.
Gaskill and Broach are residents, taxpayers and water users of the Town of Hempstead. They allege that their water charges and property taxes have increased due to the diversion of water supply to, and the loss of tax revenue from, the Mitchel Field lessees.
NSNN is a not-for-profit corporation interested in environmental issues. Cioci is the Executive Director of NSNN. TRMF is an organization dedicated to good government, fiscal issues and the environment. Blankman and Cioci are directors of TRMF. Like Gaskill and Broach, TRMF and NSNN allege that their members have been injured by increased water charges and property taxes due to the special benefits given to the Mitchel Field lessees.
Plaintiffs seek, inter alia, the following relief: (i) a declaration that defendants conspired to and did deprive plaintiffs of their constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments in connection with the above-mentioned actions; (ii) the rescission of certain leases of Mitchel Field property entered into between the County of Nassau and other named defendants between 1980 and 1986; (iii) the enjoinment of further development of Mitchel Field until a comprehensive master plan and an environmental impact statement relating to Mitchel Field, Roosevelt Raceway and surrounding areas are prepared; (iv) the establishment of a proper water district for Mitchel Field; (v) the revision and reformation of Mitchel Field leases to reflect market rental rates and lease terms, including commercially reasonable rent escalator clauses; (vi) the enjoinment of further planning and construction activities at the NCCC and the Nassau County Sheriff's Farm until the contracts for such activity are awarded on a non-discriminatory basis and adequate environmental safeguards are implemented; and (vii) related compensatory and punitive damages.
Defendants move to dismiss the fended Complaint pursuant to Rules 9(b) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the following grounds: (1) it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; (2) the claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations; (3) the Town and County defendants are dune from suit; (4) plaintiffs do not have any "property interest" protected under § 1983; (5) plaintiff taxpayers are not a "class" capable of asserting a § 1985 claim; (6) the claims of fraud are not pled with particularity; and (7) this Court will not have supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiffs' state law claims after the § 1983 and § 1985 claims are dismissed. For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.
On November 28, 1961, the United States Department of Defense announced that it was terminating its operations at the Mitchel Field Air Force Base, located in Nassau County. Upon the official closing of the base, the land passed to the United States General Services Administration for disposal as surplus property pursuant to the provisions of the Surplus Property Act of 1944, 50 U.S.C. App. § 1622, and the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1942, 40 U.S.C. § 484. Pursuant to these statutes, between 1962 and 1966 the County of Nassau purchased approximately 550 acres of Mitchel Field from the federal government for $ 21,243,388. Subsequently, the County expended approximately $ 119,000,000 in capital improvements related to that property.
Beginning in the late 1970's, apparently in response to a national and local recession, Nassau County Executive Francis Purcell, with the support of the Nassau County Board of Supervisors, determined to develop Mitchel Field as rapidly as possible. Pursuant to this plan, various developers were contacted and long-term leases were negotiated and signed. These leases, however, were immediately challenged in the state courts by opponents of the development.
On December 6, 1979, Aware, Inc. ("AWARE"), a public interest corporation of which Blankman was the president, initiated an action in Supreme Court, Nassau County, challenging two Mitchel Field leases that had been executed in August 1979.
AWARE asserted that the leases were "sweetheart" leases, granted for inadequate consideration and on a non-competitive basis. Like the Amended Complaint here, the 1979 Complaint: (1) named as defendants the County of Nassau, the Town of Hempstead and many of the individual defendants named in the instant action; (2) attacked the enactment of § 11-8.0 of the Nassau County Administrative Code as one means by which the alleged "conspiracy" was facilitated;
(3) asserted that the leases constituted an improper gift or loan of Nassau County property to a private entity; (4) challenged the environmental effects of the leases; (5) attacked zoning practices in connection with Mitchel Field development; and (6) sought equitable relief declaring the Mitchel Field leases null and void. On April 15, 1980, the action was dismissed on the merits. The court held, inter alia, that § 11-8.0 of the Nassau County Administrative Code had been validly enacted by the State legislature, that the County was authorized to make 99 year leases at Mitchel Field, and that the leases did not constitute a gift under the New York Constitution, Article VII, § 1. The decision was unanimously affirmed by the Appellate Division, Second Department on January 20, 1981. Aware, Inc. v. Nassau County, 436 N.Y.S.2d 905 (2d Dep't), leave to appeal denied, 441 N.Y.S.2d 670 (Ct. App. 1981).
On February 8, 1989, Nassau County District Attorney Dennis Dillon issued a Report on the Development of Public Land at Mitchel Field Nassau County, New York (the "Report"). Although the Report found no basis for criminal prosecution of those who directed or implemented the development of Mitchel Field, it found the following wrongdoing: (1) the development of Mitchel Field was conducted without a publicly adopted plan or policy; (2) several of the leases were let for rates far below the prevailing market rate; (3) several leases were developed without any appraisal of the property involved; (4) the leases uniformly failed to adequately compensate the County for increasing land values or inflation over the terms of the leases. This Report apparently encouraged plaintiffs to bring the instant action.
Plaintiffs served and filed the Complaint commencing this action on or about October 9, 1991. Plaintiffs allege that since 1978, defendants have maintained a policy and custom which improperly discriminates against them on the basis of their political associations and the exercise of their freedom of speech, and deprives them of due process of law by subverting the governmental process to benefit certain governmental officials and their supporters. They further allege that pursuant to such policy and custom, Mitchel Field lessees made political contributions to unnamed defendants as follows:
Leasee Years of Contribution Amount
Reckon Assocs. ...