Hofstra University is taking legal action against the Nassau County Planning Commission, claiming the group violated New York State laws in the pursuit of a casino license for Las Vegas Sands.
Sands is in the heat of the bidding process for one of the three available licenses for developing downstate NY casinos.
But Hofstra is claiming foul play was involved in the transfer of the lease for Nassau Hub and surrounding public property, as it was recently transferred to Las Vegas Sands for the potential development of a casino at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
According to a Hofstra press release, the university filed an Article 78 special proceeding against the Nassau County Planning Commission.
Hofstra claims private meetings in violation of NY laws
Hofstra’s lawsuit claims the Planning Commission failed to properly announce and conduct its meetings ahead of the lease transfer for the Nassau Hub and nearby public property. Hofstra spokeswoman Terry Coniglio said this in the press release:
“We are asking that the Planning Commission commit to a fair and transparent process,” Terry Coniglio, spokeswoman for Hofstra, said in a press release.
“To this point, the Planning Commission’s hearing did not comply with the law, and we have been forced to ask the court to ensure that the public receives the information it deserves and a fair opportunity to be heard on this important matter.”
Hofstra cited the Nassau County law requiring the Planning Commission to hold public meetings before deciding if it should recommend the lease transfer to the County Executive and County Legislature. This would also put the Planning Commission in violation of New York’s Open Meetings Law.
Unlawful meeting conducted didn’t follow NY regulations
Hofstra pointed to a March 2 meeting hosted by the Planning Commission, saying the public wasn’t granted advance notice that the forum was in relation to Nassau County property being transferred to Las Vegas Sands.
The university claims community members did not receive meeting topics, adding that the Planning Commission believed public comment closed on March 2, despite the group’s acknowledgement that negotiations remained ongoing in regard to the lease transfer.
The university also maintains the Planning Commission violated similar meeting laws prior to the one held on March 2. The press release states:
“The Planning Commission violated the law on March 2 and in other meetings, including by failing to provide the public with proper notice, by denying the public a right to attend its “work sessions” and by scheduling meetings to benefit the private interests of Las Vegas Sands.”
According to the university, by bringing the proceeding to court, Hofstra protects itself as well as the public’s right to appropriate notice, relevant information and a fair opportunity to voice their opinions on the matter.
Hofstra frequently outspoken against Sands NY casino
In late March, trustees from Hofstra penned an open letter saying Sands NY casino proposal is “entirely inappropriate” for the Nassau community.
The letter noted that the proposed casino location “is surrounded by educational institutions from preschool through graduate school, and a diversity of suburban communities that should not be exposed to the increased traffic congestion, crime, economic harm to local businesses, and other negative impacts that a casino development would likely bring.”
A group of residents also banded together to create the Say No to the Casino Civic Association. Their goal is to stop the potential construction of a casino at Nassau Coliseum.
Say No to the Casino has a petition on change.org that has totaled 2,179 signatures with a goal of 2,500.
The Garden City Village Board also voted to officially stand against the casino proposal. By doing so, the board hoped to make it clear to Nassau County lawmakers and developers that a casino isn’t welcome in the area.
Sands NY casino has backers
Despite the growing push against its proposal, Sands has received plenty of support. Sands and Nassau Community College agreed to a partnership that would expand the institution’s hospitality management program.
Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman said in his State of the County address that he remains “committed to doing big things.” Blakeman believes a Nassau casino could be part of that plan.
Blakeman said the Sands NY casino proposal must be “world-class” with the potential to generate “significant revenue” for Nassau and nearby areas. He also mentioned the proposal needing to get backing from the community, which clearly needs some work.