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Hofstra sues county planning commission over casino proposal - GC News

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

By Linda Ryan, Submitted on behalf of Say No to the Casino to the Garden City News

Hofstra University has filed a lawsuit against the Nassau County Planning Commission over the proposed transfer of the lease for the Sands Casino.

Hofstra University and the Nassau County Planning Commission and other parties are scheduled to make their first appearance in court before Judge Sarika Kapoor on August 8th.

In April, Hofstra University sued the Nassau County Planning Commission alleging that it violated New York State Open Meetings Laws regarding the proposed transfer of the lease to the Nassau Hub property, including the Nassau Coliseum, to the Las Vega Sands Corp., which intends to build an entertainment complex and casino on the site. The Hofstra Petition was later amended to name several other Nassau County agencies as Respondents. Hofstra commenced the suit because, according to the Petition, the University, its students and staff have a “keen interest in avoiding the risks of gambling addiction, crime, excessive traffic and environmental dangers associated with casinos.” The Hofstra campus is adjacent to the Nassau Hub property.

In its suit, Hofstra alleges that the Planning Commission violated the Open Meetings Law’s requirement that “public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of this state be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to deliberations and decisions that go into making public policy” when it held a series of “mishandled putative public meetings” in March and April on the proposed casino development without the statutorily required public notice of proceedings and by failing to grant the public the opportunity to be heard on the proposal. The Petition contends that, at the same time, the Commission “granted exceptional favors to Las Vegas Sands by scheduling expedited meetings of the Planning Commission and giving Law Vegas Sands special, nonpublic access to the Planning Commission itself.”

Hofstra further contends, that because the Planning Commission failed to follow Open Meetings Laws, the May 22 vote of the Nassau County Legislature to approve the lease transfer to the Las Vegas Sands was improper.

The suit also challenges the denial of Hofstra’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Request by the Planning Commission, Nassau County Planning Department and Nassau County Attorney’s Office (the Respondents) for records and other materials relating to the proposed new lease to the Sands. The denial was based on the Respondent’s contention that “if disclosed [this information] would impair present or imminent contract awards and collective bargaining agreements.”

Through its attorneys, Sullivan and Cromwell LLP, the Planning Commission and other Respondents, filed a 44-page Answer to the Petition, requesting that the court deny Hofstra’s claims and grant judgment in their favor. To access all court filings on the case go to: NYS Courts Electronic Filings at - search under Case Number 606293/2023.

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