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Village of Hewlett Harbor OK's land sale

Seawane Country Club aims to stay in business after 91 years

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The Hewlett Harbor village board voted 4-0 on July 11 to approve an application by the Seawane Country Club to subdivide a 62.75-acre parcel in order to build a single-family home on 1.12 acres. The 48,560-square-foot lot, on the east side of a cul-de-sac at the end of Thixton Drive, will be sold by the club to raise revenue and help keep it open.

Club board member Larry Cohen confirmed before last week’s meeting that the proceeds of the sale would help pay off debt, though he did not say how much debt the club has. There have been reports that the property could be sold to a person or people who would maintain Seawane as a country club. Cohen did not confirm that, but said that the club has and will continue to explore various options that would allow it to continue operating as a club and golf course.

“I was pleased with how the hearing went,” Cohen said. “It was a good discussion among the village board, residents and the club representatives. It is all aligned for us to continue to operate as a club and golf course.”

Earlier this year, club officials outlined a 10-year plan to preserve the 91-year-old facility, which was purchased by village residents in 1960 and turned it into a private, member-owned club. It features a 6,725-yard, par-72 golf course as well as 10 tennis courts, a swimming pool, a bar, a restaurant, a grill room, men’s and women’s card and locker rooms, health club facilities with trainers and a barbershop. Officials noted a decline in membership in recent years, as fewer families are joining clubs and more golfers are choosing to play at less-expensive public courses. This has motivated members to look for ways to maintain the club and pay down its debt.

The 111-year-old, 118-acre Woodmere Club was sold in 2017, and earlier this year, its new owners unveiled a plan to build 285 single-family homes on the property.

Hewlett Harbor Mayor Mark Weiss explained why the Seawane Country Club application was being heard before the board. “The fact that this matter is being heard by the board of trustees is a bit unusual,” Weiss said. “But our village code says that any matters involving Seawane must come through the board.” Village Trustee Jonathan Polakoff did not attend the July 11 meeting.

Valley Stream-based attorney Al D’Agostino, who represents the club, outlined what his clients were requesting. “Our application is for a two-lot subdivision,” he said. “Our proposal is to subdivide one single lot to build a single-family home at the end of Thixton Drive.” The application meets all village zoning and regulation standards, D’Agostino added, noting that single-family homes are required to be built on at least one acre of land.

Weiss clarified what the approval of the club’s application accomplishes. “When we speak of two lots, I think there’s a misconception that two lots are being sold off,” he said. “That is not the case. Seawane is made up of three lots, and what they are asking for is to subdivide a small portion of one of the lots.”

Robert Marks, whom D’Agostino described as a real estate expert, said the subdivision would not affect the value of surrounding properties. “In my opinion, this proposed two-lot subdivision is in the character of the surrounding area and will not in any way diminish the value of the surrounding properties,” Marks said. “There are also no changes proposed for the golf course. The one-plus acre of land being sold is a surplus of the golf course. It is not needed.”

D’Agostino said that the club would continue to operate the remaining 61 acres. “The income derived from the sale will assist in continuing club operations,” he said. “The club and golf course use will not change, and will remain as is.”

Lori Kenpner, one of a roughly dozen Hewlett Harbor residents who attended the village board meeting, asked D’Agostino if the club planned to sell off more land, and he replied, “No.” “This application is for only one lot,” he said. “If we had plans to sell off more property, we would have to come back here with a plan and present it.”

D’Agostino also confirmed that the club would not be involved in the development of the property. “The club is not in the business of developing or building houses,” he said. “The property is not able to be sold until the village board approves the application.”

Have an opinion about land development in the Five Towns? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.