Hempstead Town is considering zoning changes that could create special park districts to limit development on golf courses along the South Shore, officials said.
The town board voted at its July 3 meeting to hire a consultant to explore the feasibility and financial implications of creating park districts or golf course coastal residence districts that would limit homes on the privately operated Woodmere Club golf course.
The town has imposed a moratorium on developing the Woodmere golf course since November 2016 and now faces a lawsuit from club owners, who said they plan to shut the golf course and turn the property into residential subdivisions.
The lawsuit was filed in May by Woodmere Club owners WG Woodmere LLC, SG Barick LLC and LH Barick LLC.
Hempstead Councilman Anthony D’Esposito said the town hired Rye, New York-based Frederick P. Clark and Associates to examine if the town could purchase the Woodmere Club to run a public golf course, to create a golf course coastal residence district allowing bigger lot sizes to limit the number of homes, or to create a special district to preserve the golf course as open park space.
“Residents we’ve heard from are opposed to any development. The community has been vocal they want to keep it a park,” D’Esposito said.
D’Esposito said the town is analyzing the financial implications of preserving a golf course and the tax implications that would come in making it a special park district annexed by the town and kept as part of open space.
Woodmere residents have told the town board they are concerned about increased traffic and building along the golf course and the affects it would have on the community that has a large orthodox Jewish population and traffic on Saturdays.
An analysis by Woodbury-based Cameron Engineering that was commissioned by the town and completed in June examined development options at Woodmere Club, as well as private golf courses at the Inwood Country Club and the Golf Club at Middle Bay in Oceanside.
The report found that the Woodmere Club included several environmental resources that could be impacted by building homes. All three golf courses have environmental limitations such as tidal wetlands and rising sea levels, the report said, and converting the golf courses into residential subdivisions could lower property values due to rising taxes and costs.
The report said major roads in Woodmere would not be affected by increased traffic, but the area could see delays on certain side streets.
The moratorium passed by the town was designed to “maintain the area character and property values be preserved, enhanced, and protected for the benefit of Town residents, both within incorporated villages and in the unincorporated areas of the Town.”
Town board members have extended the moratorium five times, and it is set to expire Aug. 5.
The Woodmere Club is also subject to zoning regulations as the property includes parts of the villages of Cedarhurst, Woodsburgh and Lawrence.
Developers of the Woodmere Club have not filed any specific plans to develop the golf course, but have said they plan to close the course in 2022.
The owners of the Woodmere Club said the town’s moratorium is unconstitutional and only adversely affects their property.
“The Moratorium is nothing more than a sham intended for no other purpose than to frustrate and delay plaintiffs' efforts to plan for and obtain necessary approvals related to the development of the Club Property,” their lawsuit states.