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Nassau County Planning Commission OKs Woodmere Club outline

Next step: Developers to craft the draft environmental impact statement

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The outline, commonly known as the scope, of a proposed 285-home development at the Woodmere Club was unanimously approved by the eight-member Nassau County Planning Commission on Sept. 26.

Developers Efrem Gerszberg and Robert Weiss, who bought the club in 2017 for roughly $9 million, plan to create Willow View Estates on 114.25 acres of the property’s 118 acres. They agreed to pay nearly $15 million in debt the club had accrued. The 111- year-old club is scheduled to close in October 2021.

The developers will now use the outline to produce the next step in the process, the state-required draft environmental impact statement. Their proposal underwent a State Environmental Quality Review, which included a review of public comments by the Nassau County Department of Public Works. The environmental impact statement will detail the physical and social impacts of the development on the area around the Woodmere Club, as well as its use of energy and its potential impact on climate change — a requirement that the State Environmental Quality Review Act added last year.

“Today was a big step forward in our SEQRA process,” Weiss said. “We were pleased with the participation of the public in the scoping process, and we are moving forward with our approval plans.” According to the planning commission, more than 100 residents submitted public comments on the Willow View Estates project between June 26 and Aug. 14.

Gerszberg said the development is progressing despite legal action by those who oppose it. “Based on the determination made by Nassau County and Town of Hempstead officials, neither have the funds available to purchase the Woodmere Club,” he said. “We will continue moving forward on our legally zoned residential project.” The town enacted a building moratorium on construction on private golf courses in November 2016. The developers sued two years later, and the moratorium was declared “null and void” by Nassau County State Supreme Court Judge Leonard Steinman last Dec. 26.

Three municipalities share the Woodmere Club property: the villages of Lawrence and Woodsburgh and the hamlet of Woodmere. The developer’s preliminary proposal calls for 248 homes in Woodmere, 24 in Woodsburgh and 13 in Lawrence. The property also extends to within 300 feet of the Village of Cedarhurst. Approval of the plan is required from all four municipalities.

The developers also had a legal battle with the Woodsburgh board of trustees, which enacted a 180-day moratorium on subdividing property of two or more acres in October. The board reached a settlement on Feb. 25 with the owners of the golf club, and agreed not to extend the village’s moratorium or enact another one “relating to and/or affecting subdivisions,” as stated in the settlement.

“The immediate next step is for the developers to submit a [draft environmental impact statement] to the planning commission,” Sean Sallie, deputy commissioner of the Nassau County Department of Public Works, explained. “Once the DEIS is submitted, it will be voted on by us at a meeting. Another public comment period will then be put in place.”

Sallie added that there is no specific timeline for the submission of the environmental impact statement. “Since we voted on the scope, the ball is now in the hands of the developers,” he said. “. . . They can take one week to do it or they can take three months to do it.”

More information on the Woodmere Club development’s final scope can be found on the Planning Commission’s website, https://bit.ly/2oln3eq.

Have an opinion about the Woodmere Club development? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.