More than 100 people expressed their opinions on the proposed development of the Woodmere Club during the public comment period for the club’s environmental impact statement, according to the Nassau County Planning Commission.
Developers Efrem Gerszberg, of 2020 Acquisitions, and Robert Weiss, of Weiss Properties, bought the Woodmere Club for roughly $9 million in 2017, and agreed to assume nearly $15 million in debt that the club had amassed. Starting in 2021, they plan to build 285 single-family homes on 114.25 acres of the 111-year-old club’s 118 acres. All but 37 of the homes would be built in Woodmere; 24 would be in Woodsburgh, and 13 in Lawrence.
The comment period for the environmental impact statement ended on Aug. 14. The deadline was initially July 15, but Planning Commission Deputy Commissioner Sean Sallie said that several residents asked for an extension at a June 26 county “scoping” session — the process of determining what should be included in an EIS.
“The next step in the environmental re-view process is for the Planning Commission to accept the scope as final and complete, and make it available to the public,” Sallie wrote in an email. “Starting on Aug. 15, the developers began reviewing the public comments received on the draft scope, and will resubmit a final scope to the commission in the next few weeks.”
Gerszberg said that he and Weiss would comply with any requirements needed for the EIS to be approved. “The [State Environmental Quality Review Act] process has been an extensive formal process,” Gerszberg said. “We intend to comply with all the technical requirements, and are confident that our proposed project conforms to all state and local laws.”
“As we have made clear,” Weiss added, “our current project conforms to the current zoning [laws]. Any change to the zoning of our property is illegal, and we will litigate such changes in federal court.”
Since Gerszberg and Weiss purchased the land, they have been embroiled in two legal actions. Last year, they filed a lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead, opposing the town’s building moratorium on private golf courses. The developers won, and the town is appealing. Gerszberg and Weiss also sued the Village of Woodsburgh in January over the village’s six-month ban on subdividing the Woodmere Club property. Both parties agreed to drop the legal action on Feb. 25.
Lawrence Civic Association President Paris Popack sent out an email on Aug. 14 that urged members to express their opposition to the development. “As a resident of the Five Towns, I am vehemently opposed to the potential development of the Woodmere Club,” Popack wrote. “I am respectfully requesting that you do what you can to stop this disastrous idea from becoming a reality. Open green space is becoming so scarce, and to remove this gem from our midst would be detrimental to the Five Towns and many of our neighboring communities.”
Mario Alex Joseph, a founding member of the Five Towns Civic Association, explained the importance of residents’ opinions. “This isn’t just about a neighborhood losing a parking lot or disagreement over single-lot usage,” he said. “This is about the morphing of the entire Five Towns into a New York City borough.” Joseph added that the association’s next step would depend on “what the feedback of the community was in the public comments.”
Sallie said that the final environmental impact statement is set to be voted on at the planning commission’s Sept. 5 meeting, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the county Legislative Chamber, at 1550 Franklin Ave. in Mineola. He added that the statement would be made available to the public on the commission’s website after the meeting.
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