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Club owners argue for permit renewal

Billy Dean's Showtime Cafe in North Bellmore on

Billy Dean's Showtime Cafe in North Bellmore on May 23, 2012. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Cabaret club owners Billy Dean and Rori Gordon made their case Wednesday for another five-year renewal of their permit and off-street parking variance for their Showtime Cafe in North Bellmore.

At a nearly four-hour hearing, Dean and Gordon, along with their lawyer William Cohn of Uniondale, tried to persuade the Hempstead Town Board of Appeals to approve the application of their company, Look Entertainment Ltd. The appeals board first granted the cabaret a five-year permit in 1993, then renewed it for five-year periods. The club's current permit expired on March 28.

"I am in the fight of my life," Gordon said at the hearing.

Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) said the club owners should pursue an adult entertainment cabaret permit instead of a regular cabaret permit.

Referring to the club's website, "Every page talks of exotic dancing," Denenberg said at the hearing. "Every page talks of stripping. Every page talks of lap-dancing. . . . It's never been a cabaret. It's always been an adult entertainment cabaret."

Dean explained that he uses the term "strip club" for marketing purposes since it helps to drive traffic to his website.

"How do we reconcile what you are telling us and what is all over the website?" said appeals board member Katuria D'Amato in response. "It is pretty difficult for me to believe it is not a strip club."

Dean said the performers at the club are dressed in "bikini-style things and pasties," when they carry out "choreographed dance routines." They are not topless or nude, he said.

In a letter, Town Supervisor Kate Murray and council members Angie Cullin and Gary Hudes objected to the application and pointed out that the club is across the street from an elementary school and a library. They added that police responded 50 times to calls related to the establishment in 2010 and 2011.

"It's your [appeals board] decision to make, but you have to think of the kids," said Kevin Milano, of Wantagh, a vocal opponent of Dean's plans to expand into Wantagh. Milano said his son attends school in Bellmore.

But Gordon testified that there were no objections to the application from the library, school or nearby firehouse. Dean also said about a dozen of the police calls cited were because the club's alarm went off.

The appeals board reserved its decision and will notify the interested parties of its decision by mail.

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