Proposed Lighthouse hearing a conflict for Islanders

Charles Wang gives a presentation on the Lighthouse

Charles Wang gives a presentation on the Lighthouse Project on June 2, 2009. (Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy)

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A month after holding the environmental hearing on Charles Wang's Lighthouse project, the Town of Hempstead has scheduled a zoning hearing on the proposed development for Sept. 22, which also happens to be the date of the New York Islanders' exhibition game in Kansas City, Mo.

Town officials said Tuesday that they didn't realize the significance of the date, which represents the last major step in the town's project approval process of the project.

The zoning hearing will focus on details of the mixed-use proposal, such as the number of apartment buildings to be allowed and the height of each structure.

At the meeting, the seven town board members -- including Supervisor Kate Murray -- will question the developers, town officials said.

A new zone has to be created for the massive mixed-use development proposed by Wang and developer Scott Rechler.

If the date of the hearing is approved by the town board at its Sept. 8 meeting, the hearing will be held 11 days before the start of the new hockey season and Wang's self-imposed deadline for "certainty" on the project.

Wang has said if he isn't told what can be built on the site by Oct. 3, he will "explore his other options" as far as selling or moving the Islanders.

Wang has scheduled an exhibition game in Kansas City, which has publicly expressed a desire for an NHL team. Wang has said he will be attending that game.

According to the Islanders lease with the county, the team has to play all regular season games at the Coliseum until 2015.

Lighthouse principals have long accused the town of delaying the project's approval process.

Town officials say they and their consultants have moved in an "unprecedented" and expedited rate for a project of this size - 19 months from the developer's application for the hearing.

They say that nearly 1,000 pieces of correspondence came in during the public comment period following the project's Aug. 4 public hearing.

All input, reviewed by the town's consultants, goes into creating a final environmental impact statement, which is needed before a decision can be reached on a zoning change.

The county legislature must then vote on a lease for the county-owned land, which the developers say is more than 99 percent complete.

The zoning hearing, if the date is approved, will be held at Hofstra University's John Cranford Adams Playhouse, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., 2-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

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