Conceptual renderings of Sands' proposed $4 billion casino-resort in Nassau...

Conceptual renderings of Sands' proposed $4 billion casino-resort in Nassau County. The company has agreed to take over the lease on most of the 76-acre Coliseum property. Credit: The Sands Corp.

Hofstra University on Tuesday sued the Nassau County Planning Commission for allegedly violating state open meetings law when it held a hearing about the $4 billion plan for a casino-resort on the Nassau Coliseum property.

Hofstra, a private university in Hempstead, opposes Las Vegas Sands' proposal near the campus. The project would be located on the 72-acre county-owned Uniondale property known as the Nassau Hub, one of the last tracts of undeveloped public land in Nassau.

The lawsuit was filed in state Supreme Court in Mineola. A judge has yet to be assigned.

At issue is a March 2 planning commission meeting that included a public hearing on the lease transfer.

Hofstra's filing asks the court to require the county to void the meeting and "make available to the public at least one week in advance materials and the proposed resolution to be considered" for a new meeting. 

The suit alleges the planning commission: 

  • Failed to properly notify the public and provide necessary materials about the lease transfer before the meeting.

  • Conducted the meeting before lease negotiations were complete.

  • Voted prematurely to close public comment at the end of the meeting.

  • Broke the rules of executive session and improperly met privately with Sands representatives. 

“The proposed transfer of the Nassau Coliseum lease to Las Vegas Sands needs to receive a full airing to the public which the planning commission has failed to do,” said Adam Schuman, an attorney for the university.

Nassau County spokesman Christopher Boyle declined to comment directly on the allegations in the suit, saying in a statement: "Hofstra University would be better off spending their students' tuition on education rather than frivolous lawsuits." 

Sands officials were not immediately available for comment.

The lawsuit comes before a planning commission meeting scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. in the legislative chambers in Mineola.

The Coliseum lease is on the agenda, but it's unclear whether the commission will vote to advance it to the county legislature, where approval also is needed to move the project forward.

County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, has said he would support a "world-class" casino-resort that has the support of the community.

The lease transfer is one of several steps Sands would need to take before developing a casino at the site. Zoning permits, approval from community panels and a state gaming license also are required.

Hofstra University President Susan Poser has been vocally opposed to the project since it was announced in January.

It would include a casino with Las Vegas-style slot machines and table games, a spa, wellness center, hotel rooms, restaurants, conference rooms and retail and entertainment. 

In a statement, Poser said the legal filing "is to ensure that the Nassau County Planning Commission and the Nassau County Legislature give the public ample opportunity to review and comment fully upon the terms of the proposed lease and its implications before any decision about its transfer to Las Vegas Sands is made."

"Whether Nassau County should transfer the lease for the Nassau Hub to Las Vegas Sands to build a casino is a major decision that will have far-reaching implications for our region for decades to come," Poser said.

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