Hofstra Lawsuit Claims Casino Hearing Breached Law
Yesterday, Hofstra University, a private university in Hempstead, filed a lawsuit against the Nassau County Planning Commission for supposedly breaching state open meetings law when it called a hearing on a $4 billion plan for a casino-resort on the site of the Nassau Coliseum in New York.
Opponent of the construction of the proposed casino-resort:
Hofstra University has come out against the construction of a proposed New York casino by Las Vegas Sands, an American casino and resort company based in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The site of the new casino-resort would be on the 72-acre county-owned Uniondale property, the Nassau Hub, one of the last pieces of undeveloped public land in Nassau, meaning near the campus of the aforementioned university.
On that note, since Hofstra University President Susan Poser has been vocal in her opposition to the project since it was announced in January, she said in a statement: “The legal filing is to ensure that the Nassau County Planning Commission and the Nassau County Legislature give the public ample opportunity to review and comment fully upon the terms of the proposed lease and its implications before any decision about its transfer to Las Vegas Sands is made.
“Whether Nassau County should transfer the lease for the Nassau Hub to Las Vegas Sands to build a casino is a major decision that will have far-reaching implications for our region for decades to come.”
Hofstra University filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Mineola. However, a judge has not yet been assigned to this case.
The main cause of the lawsuit is a planning commission meeting held on March 2 that involved a public hearing on the lease transfer.
Hofstra’s lawsuit asks the court to “require the county to void the meeting and “make available to the public at least one week in advance materials and the proposed resolution to be considered for a new meeting.”
It also asserts that the planning commission:
- Failed to properly notify the public and provide the necessary materials about the lease transfer before the meeting;
- Conducted the meeting before lease negotiations were complete;
- Voted prematurely to close public comment at the end of the meeting;
- Broke the rules of executive session and improperly met privately with Sands representatives.
“The proposed transfer of the Nassau Coliseum lease to Las Vegas Sands needs to receive a full airing to the public which the planning commission has failed to do.”
Nassau County spokesman Christopher Boyle rejected to comment directly on the allegations in the lawsuit, saying in a statement: “Hofstra University would be better off spending their students’ tuition on education rather than frivolous lawsuits.”
However, Las Vegas Sands officials were not immediately available for comment.
Transfer of lease – a necessary step for the construction of the proposed casino-resort:
The Las Vegas Sands is a few steps away from officially starting construction of the proposed casino-resort at the site. One of these steps is to transfer the lease, but zoning permits, community board approval and a state gaming license are also required.
This lawsuit occurred before a planning commission meeting scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. in the Mineola legislative chambers.
Furthermore, the Coliseum lease is on the agenda, but it’s still not clear if the commission will vote to bring it to the county parliament, where approval is also needed to move the project forward.
In this regard, County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, said: “I would support a world-class casino-resort that has the support of the community.”
Layout of the proposed casino-resort:
The proposed casino-resort would offer a Las Vegas-style casino with slot machines and table games, a spa, wellness center, hotel rooms, restaurants, conference rooms and retail and entertainment.