By Bill Shields

NAHANT (CBS) – Nahant is basically an island community with 3,400 residents. But now, controversy has pitted neighbors against neighbors.

Northeastern University has owned a small marine science center in Nahant since 1966. Now, the university wants to expand into its own unused land. A 55,000-square-foot building.

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The town is looking at using eminent domain to take over a part of the land and keep it undeveloped.

Many in town say it would be out of place and create too much traffic for the island community.

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“They’re planning a 55,000-square-foot building, which is twice as large as any building in Nahant,” said Jeff Musman of the Nahant Preservation Trust.

Others say the land is unused and the planned facility would blend in. Also, for the town to take the land by eminent domain would cost millions of dollars in legal fees.

“We’ve got much bigger problems than a little patch of land, you know, out on East Point that’s been developed and developed and developed over the decades,” says Ken Carangelo. “The sea level’s rising and we’ve got seniors in town that have no place to downsize to.”

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The town is scheduled for a vote on May 15.