The Town of Hempstead has halted its review of the proposed Lighthouse project, telling developers it cannot proceed until they pay the town's consultant $175,000 owed in fees, according to a letter from the town.
The town hired the consultant - F.P. Clark Associates of Rye - in April 2008, to perform a review of the environmental impacts of the proposed project, with the arrangement that the developers are to pay the consultant through an escrow account maintained by the town.
A representative of Lighthouse developers Charles Wang and Scott Rechler did not return calls for comment Tuesday. They have objected to the consultant's bills for issues the developers consider irrelevant to the environmental review of the megaproject.
Town officials would not comment on the letter, which was obtained by Newsday.
The Lighthouse group has not paid any fees to the consultant since Sept. 9, town records show. The developers have paid $550,000 into the escrow account since the consultant was hired.
In October, representatives from the town and the Lighthouse group agreed that the town, while continuing its review of the project's final environmental impact statement, would generate an alternative proposal for the site that officials felt would qualify for town board approval.
Wang and Rechler have proposed 2,300 residential units and 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space for the 77 acres around an expanded Nassau Coliseum.
Town officials have said they were hoping they could reach agreement with the developers on a scaled-down version but say they can't develop any further plans for the project without using the consultant. And they say they're awaiting the Lighthouse group's answers to questions the consultant raised a month ago regarding the project's environmental impacts, such as inconsistencies in traffic generation data.
According to the town's Dec. 16 letter, the developers have not responded to requests for more information. The developers have said that the 6,500-page environmental impact statement they submitted Sept. 22 contains the answers.
F.P. Clark's most recent billings - statements from Dec. 11 and 12 - seek $1,477 for a traffic review and other work done in November. The Dec. 12 invoice also noted there was a balance due of $88,136.
Town officials were unable to explain why the letter specified $175,000 due when the latest invoice cited $88,136 in arrears.