Hempstead Town board members plan to extend a moratorium on developing the Woodmere Club golf course, pushing back against a judge's ruling that the moratorium was unconstitutional.
Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Leonard D. Steinman ruled last month that Hempstead had no legal standing to impose a two-year moratorium for developers of the Woodmere Club to close the golf course and build homes in the Five Towns communities.
“The moratorium is unconstitutional because it currently serves no proper purpose and it has now been extended beyond a reasonable time,” Steinman wrote in a Dec. 26 judgment. “Defendants have failed to set forth any evidence to create an issue of fact to be tried.”
The town’s moratorium expires on Feb. 23, but Councilman Anthony D’Esposito said the board will extend it while the town files an appeal.
Town attorneys filed a notice of appeal following the judgment, which they say should grant a six-month stay on the judge’s ruling. The town is considering zoning changes that could limit housing and create a special park district on the 120-acre private country club.
“This doesn’t mean dump trucks and tractor trailers are running to rip up the Woodmere Club,” D’Esposito said.
Hempstead Chief Deputy Town Attorney Charles Kovit said the town has the legislative authority to extend the moratorium, but hopes to find a compromise with developers on the number of homes built.
Woodmere Club owner Efrem Gerszberg said the judge’s ruling allows the club to move forward with its development plan to build 285 luxury homes. He said they have received hundreds of calls from interested home buyers. The golf course was slated to close in 2022 and then be redeveloped. Developers said they will seek federal intervention and millions in damages if they are further blocked by the town.
“We are confident that the moratorium will also be deemed to serve no legitimate purpose and found to be illegal,” Gerszberg said.
Woodmere Club owners said they would challenge anyone voting to extend the moratorium to be found in contempt of court. Attorneys for developers said they do not believe the town can stay the judge’s ruling with a notice of appeal.
The Woodmere Club filed a lawsuit in May challenging the moratorium that was first instituted by the town board in November 2016.
Residents have expressed concerns of traffic on main roads through the Orthodox Jewish community. A traffic study by developers found traffic would not be affected on major streets but could create delays on some side streets.
Town officials said they are seeking to preserve a large portion of the golf course as part of a smaller nine-hole golf course . Town officials are exploring zoning changes that would create a special park district and reduce the current zoning for 200 homes into a development of large plots with fewer than 75 homes, Kovit said.
“We may support some residences, but not as many as proposed last year,” Kovit said.