Opponents of a planned Wantagh entertainment club who fear it will become a center of adult entertainment once opened are now gearing up for a legal fight.
A newly formed group called “Wantagh-Seaford Protect Our Children and Preserve Our Community” has hired Chris Benes as its attorney to fight against Billy Dean’s development on 3500 Sunrise Hwy. at the corner of Oakland Avenue. Benes, who is with the Westbury-based firm Gold, Stewart & Benes, LLP, also represented the Bellmore Preservation Group in its fight against a proposed next to a residential street.
Dean owns a strip club in North Bellmore called Billy Dean’s Showtime Café and opponents of his business slated for Wantagh believe it will also resemble adult entertainment and thus bring wreak havoc in a residential community with traffic as well as bringing down property values. Opponents cite the current contruction as not having windows as being one indication that the business will offer adult entertainment.
The Town of Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals approved a cabaret permit to Dean last May for 3500 Sunrise Highway, which formerly housed Frank’s Steaks and has been the home to various bars over the years. However after protests against Dean’s plans for the property with many saying they were not notified of the issue last year, the Hempstead BZA scheduled a of Dean’s cabaret application for May 18.
Opponents of a strip club in Wantagh held a strategy meeting at to discuss fundraising to fight Dean's cabaret application. Wantagh resident Kevin Milano, who has organized protests at 3500 Sunrise Highway in recent weeks, said about $10,000-$12,000 needs to be raised for legal expenses and any funds that are leftover from their fight will be donated to local PTA organizations.
“The community is really up in arms over this,” said Milano. “We’re going to go all the way with this.”
Milano said he is not sure if "Wantagh-Seaford Protect Our Children and Preserve Our Community” will need to register as a 501(c)3 organization to raise its funds but will be prepared to do so if necessary.
Ella Stevens, president of the , said the civic group would be opposed to a strip club in their community. “The Wantagh-Seaford Homeowners would not want a strip club if that is what it’s going to be,” said Stevens.
Dean’s attorney Bill Cohn of Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo, Cohn & Terrana, LLP in Uniondale said they are going to try and set up a meeting with neighbors who have concerns about what is planned for the property prior to the May 18 hearing. Cohn declined to comment on the specifics of his client's case.
Dean Patch last November that he was not planning to have any adult entertainment at his new Wantagh business and it would instead be operated as a dinner club with “unique comedy acts.”
The Billy Dean's Showtime Cafe website describes the unnamed Wantagh facility as a "full service restaurant" that "will feature dinner and show theatrical production packages with various types of variety entertainment." The description of the planned business said the club will "cater to anniversary, birthday, bachelorette, bachelor parties or groups of friends looking for a new twist for an exciting evening."
The Hempstead BZA granted Dean’s cabaret license on the condition that there be no nude entertainment and that no employees be topless or bottomless. However a cabaret license still allows for use of G-Strings, pasties and other sexually provocative outfits and accessories that would resemble a strip club.
Opponents of Dean’s development have set up a facebook page called "No Strip Club In Wantagh" as a way to get the word out to the community. Milano said another protest at 3500 Sunrise Highway is planned for this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. He said the protests will continue until it is certain that a strip club will not be operating in his community.
“We’re going to continue [the protests] until it is absolutely official that his cabaret license is revoked,” said Milano. “If he keeps his cabaret license and opens we’re going to continue in our protest."