Five Towners prepare for Woodmere Club battle

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Civic groups from across the Five Towns are planning on attending the Town of Hempstead board meeting on June 19 at 7 p.m. The town called for a public hearing regarding the Golf Course Coastal Residence Overlay District at the board’s meeting on June 5.

The proposed district would restrict building on land that was described as “environmentally sensitive” and include the Woodmere Club. Efrem Gerszberg, one of the developers who bought the 118-acre club, said they would challenge the new building regulations. “We would immediately file a lawsuit in federal court for violating our constitutional rights . . . to overturn the new overlay district,” Gerszberg said. “The zoning allows for a 350-single-family home project on the golf course. We would also seek over $100 million in damages.”

Julie Pareles, a member of the Hewlett-Woodmere Endowment Fund Board and a Hewlett resident, said a good portion of Five Towns residents are strongly opposed to the development of the land, and offended by what they view as a lack of transparency from town government. “We’ll be there, the community is up in arms,” she said. “The needs of the public aren’t being accounted for and we’ve had very little opportunity to respond.”

Current zoning would allow for 240 single-family homes to be built, according to Councilman Bruce Blakeman, but with changes to the zoning that could possibly be reduced to 77 home. Pareles said that local groups are concerned with the traffic, and that any amount new residents would have a negative impact. “Broadway is already a nightmare,” she said. “Imagine seventy-seven more families on the road, so many aspects weren’t thought through.”

Flood mitigation is another concern, communities in the Five Towns are still waiting on state money for infrastructure projects, and the porous land on the golf course allows the water to drain. “The water’s got to go somewhere,” said David Friedman, president of the Hewlett-Woodmere Business Association.

Community leaders from the local school districts, county police, fire departments, ambulance companies, business associations, temples, churches and civic groups attended a June 12 meeting at Woodro Kosher Restaurant in Hewlett to discuss the development and prepare for the town board meeting.