Open space on LI in jeopardy

To find a 100-acre piece of land like the one Gene Smith owns in Middle Island is nearly impossible, which is why he is frustrated it is falling into disuse.

Despite paying $30,000 in taxes on the land per year, Smith says he can?t do anything with it.

The land is Pine Barrens land and under the Pine Barrens Act of 1993, only New York State can buy it. However, money set aside for purchasing such land has been spent elsewhere.

Richard Amper, of the Pine Barrens Society, says if landowners can?t be compensated, the entire Pine Barrens Act could be declared unconstitutional.

Smith says he intends to sue because he can?t afford to pay taxes on land he doesn?t use.

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