Woodmere Club suit dismissed by court


The future of the Woodmere Club land remains unclear after federal court on Dec. 1 dismissed two developers’ $200 million lawsuit against the villages of Lawrence and Woodsburgh and the Town of Hempstead.

Greg Blower, a town spokesman, said in a statement: “The court granted the town’s motion to dismiss, and outside counsel is presently reviewing the judgment.”

In 2020, developers Efrem Gerszberg and Robert Weiss filed the suit against the town and the villages because of the approval of a Coastal Conservation District, a intermunicipal agreement between the town and villages to build 83 homes on 114.5 of the club’s 118 acres, which the developers purchased in 2017 for more than $9 million, along with assuming the club’s nearly $15 million in debt.

In 2019, the developers proposed the construction of 284 single-family homes to be built on the land, a plan that was met with criticism from residents. Some 247 of the homes would be in the Village of Woodmere, 24 in Woodsburgh and 13 in Lawrence. The development would be called Willow View Estates.

By creating the Coastal Conservation District, the town and the villages were aiming to drastically scale down the developers’ proposal. The club property would be divided into three subdistricts, and an 83.3-acre parcel — 70 percent of the property — would be designated an “open space and recreation” subdistrict. A single-family residential subdistrict would comprise 29.4 acres, or 24 percent of the property, and there would also be a 5.7-acre clubhouse/hospitality subdistrict, accounting for 5 percent of the land.   

Beginning in 2016, the town sought to help block development by placing a temporary building moratorium on residential golf course properties. Hempstead extended the moratorium six times, but it was voided by a court ruling in 2019.

“The Woodmere club developers are apparently taking a different route,” Alex Edelman, the mayor of Lawrence, said, “and trying to see whether they can settle with Hempstead and the villages of Lawrence and Woodsburgh, if they can have a global settlement and limit the amount of housing they can put out.” Edelman called the court ruling a win, but almost obsolete, because the lawsuit is two years old, and, he added, the developers will now go a different route.

Gerszberg said that the judge’s ruling was based on not having the number of homes that the developers are approved to build. The current zoning placed by the Coastal Conservation District would allow 54 homes to be built. The judge requested that the developers refile a lawsuit when the final zoning determination was made.

“As requested by the judge, we will be amending our complaint in mid-January, after seeking alternative zoning with the villages and town,” Gerszberg said.

He and Weiss currently have an application for 54 homes before the Town and two villages planning board. But they remain committed to their 284-home proposal.

 “We anticipate the judge will either grant us the ability to build 284 homes,” Gerszberg said, “or order the villages and town to compensate us for the over 230 homes that were illegally taken from us.”

Have an opinion on the proposed development of the Woodmere Club? Send letter to jbessen@liherald.com.