Town holding public hearings on Coliseum casino plan

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By Dan Sears

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The Town of Hempstead is holding two public hearings Thursday as part of its environmental review process for the $4 billion casino resort project proposed by Las Vegas Sands at the Nassau Coliseum property. 

The town is moving forward with the environmental scoping sessions despite the ongoing court fight between Nassau County and Hofstra University, in which a judge ruled in November that the transfer of the Coliseum lease to Sands was improper. The ruling in the lawsuit brought by Hofstra held that Nassau County’s Planning Commission had violated the state’s Open Meetings Law by not providing a proper public hearing on the lease transfer and failed to give a “hard look” when considering the project’s environmental impact. 

Thursday’s public hearings, to be held at the Long Island Marriott next to the Coliseum property in Uniondale, are expected to draw a big crowd of casino supporters and opponents. 

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The Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, which supports the project, sent an email Wednesday to urge its members to show up at the hearings. 

“Moving the environmental review process forward is a critical step in securing billions in economic development dollars, thousands of jobs, and endless opportunities for our region,” the email read. “Your voice is critical at this moment, and we hope you will join us at the hearings and speak out on why you support this project.” 

An opposition group called Say No to the Casino Civic Association sent an email last week questioning why the town was going ahead with hearings on its environmental review for the project, since the lawsuit is still pending. 

“We call on the Town of Hempstead to halt their planned SEQRA proceedings until the courts make their final ruling on the status of the land lease,” the email read. “The HUB land is owned by the taxpayers of Nassau County and its fate should not be decided in back-room deals or through dubious loopholes that would likely not hold up to scrutiny in court.” 

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The hearings, which will explore elements of the environmental review, including air quality, noise, water, light, parking and traffic, are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. 

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