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Hempstead zoning board denies Billy Dean permits for cabaret

Venue owner Billy Dean stands outside the building

Venue owner Billy Dean stands outside the building on Sunrise Highway in Wantagh where he wants to operate a cabaret on Aug. 12, 2016. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Hempstead Zoning Board of Appeals has denied the latest application from an adult-entertainment venue owner to open a cabaret on Sunrise Highway in Wantagh.

Erica Dubno, the attorney for the owner, Billy Dean, said her client had presented a case for a facility that featured magic acts and knife-throwing performances, not adult entertainment.

Board members rendered their decision without any explanation or statement last week, denying Dean’s application for building and special-use permits for the proposed venue at 3500 Sunrise Hwy.

The proposal before the board was for a facility with live music, dancing and entertainment, board secretary Richard Regina said.

Dean and his attorneys had argued in a 15-hour hearing last month that the town should grant the permits for the cabaret. But last Wednesday, the board voted unanimously to deny the request.

Board members also denied Dean’s request for a parking variance, but granted his request for a 6-foot fence along the property’s border on Oakland Avenue.

Town and state officials and some neighbors of the building have opposed the project, citing concerns about noise and traffic.

Dean has a pending federal civil-rights lawsuit against the town and some state officials over the town’s revocation of a special-use permit in 2011 for the proposed cabaret. In his federal complaint, Dean is arguing that the town violated his civil rights and freedom of speech by barring him from opening the business.

The Commack resident also operates Billy Dean’s Showtime Café in North Bellmore, which features scantily clad dancers and offers lap dances.

Dubno said neither the proposed cabaret nor the existing North Bellmore club would be classified as strip clubs because they do not include nudity. Any mention of strippers on the Showtime Café website, she said, was there only to increase online traffic.

“There was no explanation on the basis of turning us down,” Dubno said. “We believe the community opposition was against the type of entertainment he was going to offer. He never sought an application to operate a strip club.”

The town does have an adult-entertainment ordinance, but does not expressly prohibit strip clubs. Dean has not sought a permit under that ordinance for the Wantagh proposal.

Dean sought a new building permit after the federal court ruled in February that he had not received the final determination from the zoning board of appeals. That case is scheduled for a Dec. 5 status conference.

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