Judges uphold denial of Billy Dean cabaret in Wantagh

Claudia Borecky, of North Merrick, stands in front

Claudia Borecky, of North Merrick, stands in front of a building at 3500 Sunrise Highway in Wantagh. (Credit: Chris Ware)

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Nearly four years of protest from Wantagh residents have been capped by an appellate court's ruling that strip club owner Billy Dean cannot open a new venue in their community.

A panel of New York State Appellate Division justices affirmed Hempstead Town's denial of a cabaret permit to Dean, who for years sought to open a "Las Vegas Style" club in Wantagh.

Dean and partner Rori Gordon in October 2011 unsuccessfully sued the town appeals board and its seven members in State Supreme Court for denying the cabaret license for his property at 3500 Sunrise Hwy. in Wantagh. The denial reversed the board's approval of Dean's application more than a year earlier.

The partners' attorney appealed the denial, citing that initial approval of the cabaret application that led Dean to start construction on the lot he bought for $950,000.

The justices on Thursday ruled that Hempstead "did not improvidently exercise its discretion when it reopened and reheard the petitioner's application for a special exception permit after it had originally granted it," the ruling states.

Wantagh resident Kevin Milano, who lives three blocks from the property, cheered the decision. He was one of dozens of residents who repeatedly pressured town officials to reverse their initial decision to issue Dean the license.

"It would have ruined our neighborhood and it would have had a big impact on our home," Milano said yesterday.

Neither Dean nor his attorney, William Cohn of Uniondale, could be reached for comment.

Dean owns Billy Dean's Showtime Cafe in North Bellmore, which bills itself as "Long Island's Number 1 Strip Club."

The license for the Wantagh venue would have allowed live music, dancing and entertainment at the planned Mile High Club with a "Las Vegas Style" feel. It would have prohibited topless or nude entertainment.

Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said yesterday that she hoped the ruling is "the end of the line" for the project. The justices' decision will "keep this kind of business out of what is a beautiful community," Murray said.

A State Supreme Court justice upheld the Hempstead Town Board of Appeals decision in May 2012. That court also determined the board was within its rights to reopen the hearing and schedule a new one.

The Wantagh property is located two-fifths of a mile from Wantagh Elementary School. Opponents of the club argued that it would bring noise and traffic to the area, and that it was out of character for a residential neighborhood.

Claudia Borecky, a Merrick resident who campaigned against the club, said she was glad the court reaffirmed the town's decision.

"I wouldn't want that in Wantagh," she said. "They don't need that."

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