A state Supreme Court Justice agreed with Hofstra University that the Nassau County Planning Commission and Legislature violated state law in approving the transfer of the lease for the Nassau Coliseum and adjoining property to the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Sands plans to construct a casino and entertainment complex on the site. As a result of the violations, the judge annulled both the resolution of the Planning Commission and vote of the Legislature approving the lease transfer, as well as the lease itself, which was signed by County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Sands President Zac Hudson. The Sands Corp. is not a party to the litigation.
The court found that the Planning Commission failed to hold public hearings in accordance with the Open Meeting Law and that the Legislature failed to take a “hard look” at the environmental impact of the lease transfer, as required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). Judge Sarika Kapoor wrote in her decision that “either of these violations, independently, is a sufficient ground to annul” the action of the Planning Commission, Legislature, and the lease. She remitted the matter to the Planning Commission to “conduct new public hearings in accordance with all relevant statutes” and for the Legislature to follow the requirements of SEQRA by conducting the mandatory environmental review.
Attorneys for the defendants obtained an emergency stay of the lower court’s order from the Appellate Division, Second Department within days of the decision. The stay temporarily halts enforcement of the judge’s order. The defendants also filed a Notice of Appeal of the decision and made a motion to expedite the appeal. Hofstra did not oppose the motion to expedite the appeal. The parties are due in court before the Appellate Division on November 21 when that court will consider whether the emergency stay of the enforcement of Judge Kapoor’s order should continue and whether the defendants should be permitted to appeal the decision.
Earlier this month, Las Vegas Sands (LVS) filed a document requesting that the Town of Hempstead Board rezone the 70+ acre site where Nassau Coliseum and the Marriott Hotel sit to allow for development of a casino and hotel complex. The information provided in the document provides a clearer picture of the scale of the project. Las Vegas Sands reported in the zoning application that its casino will be 393,726 square feet. We expect that the Town of Hempstead will complete a thorough and fair review of LVS’ petition. We plan to fully participate in the process and are confident that the Town of Hempstead will serve in the best interest of its constituents and reject LVS’ petition.
At the July 2 Village Meet and Greet, two residents from Say No to the Casino (Monica Kiely and Rich Catalano) gave a brief overview of where we are in the Sands casino licensing process. The following is a recap of their presentation:
The Nassau County legislature voted on May 22 to approve the transfer of a long-term lease for the Nassau Hub property to the Las Vegas Sands Corp. The Sands can now move forward with the lengthy process of applying for a New York State Gaming License. After the Sands submits their initial application for the license, two local requirements must be met:
- The Sands must demonstrate public support for a casino by obtaining the approval of a local Community Advisory Committee (the CAC). There will be five members of the CAC, and they will be appointed (1 apiece) by the following elected officials: Governor Kathy Hochul, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, NY State Senator Kevin Thomas, NY State Assembly Member Ed Ra, and Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin. The five CAC members have not yet been appointed. According to the NY Gaming Facility Location Board (GFLB), each CAC will elect a Chairperson, solicit and review public comments, and hold public meetings. The CAC must hold a vote-with a two-thirds threshold-to establish public support approving or disapproving the application. The GFLB can consider only applications that are approved by a two-thirds threshold by the local CAC. The Say No group is awaiting confirmation from the GFLB that the 2/3 minimum threshold for a 5-person committee means that 4 of the 5 committee members must be in agreement in order to make a recommendation.
- The Sands project must receive zoning approval from the Town of Hempstead. Before the Town of Hempstead Council can vote to rezone the Nassau Hub property to permit a casino and related resort facility, an Environmental Impact Statement or EIS is required to be prepared in accordance with the New York State Environment Quality Review Act or SEQRA. The Town of Hempstead has retained Nelson Pope Voorhis as their environmental consultant.
At this time, there is no scheduled timetable for these events. The Say No to the Casino group urged their fellow residents to stay engaged, keep informed, and help to spread the word that we are still in the very early stages of this process. Three downstate gaming licenses will be awarded, and the conventional wisdom is that one will go to Aqueduct/Resorts World and one will go to Yonkers/Empire City. There are at least five other locations vying for the same gaming license that Las Vegas Sands would like to secure, therefore the proposal to build a casino at the Nassau Hub location is far from being a certainty.
The Garden City Board of Trustees adopted two resolutions this year opposing a casino at the Nassau Hub. The first, adopted by a 7-0 vote (Trustee Lawrence Marciano, Jr. was absent) on February 21, 2023, reads as follows:
RESOLUTION NO. 11-2023
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Garden City ("the Board") notes that the presence of a Casino and proposed ancillary uses at the Nassau Hub would result in a negative impact on our quality of life that would be dramatic, and the placing of a 24 hour Casino and proposed ancillary uses in the heart of Nassau County would permanently impact the character of the surrounding communities; and
WHEREAS, the Board has received considerable input from residents opposing a Casino and other uses at the Nassau Hub Site; and
WHEREAS, the serious security issues that surround Casinos are well known, including illegal activity, crime, human sex trafficking, DWIs, prostitution, drugs and problem gambling, and the impact on our Village roadways which are already overburdened with traffic would be significant; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of the Village of Garden City, on behalf of the residents of Garden City, is adamantly opposed to a Casino and proposed ancillary uses at the Nassau Hub site; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board urges Nassau County to not authorize the transfer of the license agreement for the Nassau Hub property so as to facilitate a Casino and proposed ancillary uses at that site and implores Nassau County to look towards appropriate uses of this property that will enhance our communities rather than negatively impact them.
The second, adopted by an 8-0 vote on April 20, 2023, reads as follows:
RESOLUTION NO. 61-2023
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Garden City (“the Board”) notes that the presence of a Casino at the Nassau Coliseum/Nassau Hub Site (“Nassau Hub Site”) would have a significant negative impact on the quality of life within the Village which would be dramatic, and the placing of a “round the clock,” 24/7 Casino in the heart of Nassau County would permanently impact the character of the surrounding communities; and
WHEREAS, the Board has received considerable input from residents across the Village in opposition to the development a Casino at the Nassau Hub Site; and
WHEREAS, the serious security issues that surround Casinos are well known, including DWIs, prostitution, drugs, human sex trafficking, and compulsive gambling, and moreover, a severe negative impact on our Village roadways which are already overburdened with traffic; and
WHEREAS, the Board urges the Nassau County Legislature and the Nassau County IDA to actively seek out development ideas which will enhance our communities; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Boad, on behalf of the residents of Garden City, is adamantly opposed to a Casino at the Nassau Hub Site; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board urges the Nassau County Legislature to reject the Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s request to secure the transfer and control of the lease agreements for the Nassau Hub and Marriott Hotel sites so as to facilitate a Casino at that site; and urges the Nassau County IDA to look towards developing appropriate uses of these properties which will enhance Garden City and our surrounding communities rather than negatively impact our collective quality of life.