WANTAGH - Residents rallied Saturday in Wantagh against a proposed cabaret that has been seeking to open on Sunrise Highway near Oakland Avenue.
Demonstrators say the site is less than a mile from an elementary school and will cause traffic problems. They also argue the facility will drive down property values in what they say is a family-oriented town.
As News 12 has reported, the Wantagh site has long been the subject of legal disputes and protests, and the owner, Billy Dean, has previously claimed that a town ordinance banning new buildings without windows had targeted him.
Some local officials rallied alongside residents on Saturday. "This is something that belongs in an industrial park or in another part of the city," said state Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa). "We have seen the applicant advertise business at this site as a 'Las Vegas-style' entertainment. When you hear those words and see them mixed with a cabaret application, I think its something that certainly has to be looked in to and opposed."
News 12 spoke with Dean, who also owns Billy Dean's Show Time Cafe in North Bellmore. He sought to dispute characterizations of his proposed facility.
"There's no application for adult entertainment. We never asked for adult entertainment," he says. "We never asked for a strip club. They were only able to rile up this neighborhood based on the fact that they think a strip club is coming here."
Dean says the Vegas-style entertainment he's planning is tamer than what others are expecting. He has likened it to "Americas Got Talent," and Coney Island sideshows, with "everything from hand-balancing to jugglers."
An attorney for Billy Dean says the original permit states there will be no nudity or topless entertainment at the Wantagh facility, but some residents say they fear that it will become more like Dean's North Bellmore establishment, which advertises lap dances on its website.
"You'll see he promotes a lot of very lewd acts: women-on-women, hot-oil fighting, mud-wrestling -- a very horrible, disgraceful, not-family friendly environment," said one demonstrator who did not want to be named.
Dean argues that he's willing to sign an agreement with officials on the type of entertainment he would provide. "We've already spoken to the town and said we'd be willing to sign a covenant that there would be no topless, no bottomless and nude enterntaimnent at this site," he says.
But protesters say it's just a play on words. "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Keep it out of Wantagh," one protester said.
A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Oct. 13.