NASSAU COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- The fate of Las Vegas' $4 billion casino project on the Nassau Coliseum property is now up in the air after a State Supreme Court judge voided its 99-year lease agreement.
Back in April, Hofstra University sued Nassau County, alleging the county Planning Commission violated state Open Meetings Law because it had not properly notified the public of a meeting on the lease issue.
A New York State Supreme Court judge agreed with the suit, ordering the lease held by Las Vegas Sands to the Nassau Coliseum voided.
The judge also ordered the votes by Nassau County's Planning Commission and legislature approving the lease transfer now "annulled."
Members of Say No to the Casino Civic Association, which vocally protested the Nassau Coliseum development, gathered outside of the Nassau Coliseum on Friday to express relief after the ruling.
"We're delighted that the judge listens well and was so clear in her judgement to A, say we need to slow down and let the people be a part of the process, B and very importantly, we want an environmental review," said Steve Rolston of Baldwin.
Hofstra University President Susan Poser issued a statement in response to the ruling, praising the judge's decision. "The court recognized the public's right to participate in decision-making about the current redevelopment plan for the Nassau Hub," said Poser. "We look forward to contributing to the planning process and advocating for the use of the Hub in ways that will best contribute to our thriving community, while protecting against environmental and other harms."
Nassau County is appealing the ruling.
County Executive Bruce Blakeman said in a statement that he's sure the ruling will be overturned after the appeal.
"For far too long the Coliseum site known as The Hub has been languishing in a twilight zone of inaction," said Blakeman. "We are grateful that the Appellate Division granted a stay of the lower court's decision, and we're confident the lower court's ruling will be overturned. I will continue to stand for the proposal by the Sands to develop a world class luxury hotel, spa, entertainment center, and casino which will bring $5 billion dollars in construction, good paying permanent jobs, and tax relief for our residents."
The court's decision comes as Sands prepares to apply for a competitive state gaming license.
"This is not the right location for the second largest casino in our country with a gambling floor larger than seven football fields," said Monica Kiely of Garden City.
Some of the issues that Nassau County residents have raised are the high volume of traffic, gambling, crime and air quality.
Following the news, a spokesperson for Sands said, "Las Vegas Sands is proceeding proudly and enthusiastically with our proposal for an integrated resort and entertainment center at the Nassau Hub. We are grateful for the wonderful response we have received from the Long Island community and we will be continuing our very comprehensive outreach as we present this transformational project."
Las Vegas Sands paid Nassau County more than $54 million as part of that lease agreement.