Murray, Cullin, Hudes Testify at Wantagh Cabaret Hearing: Officials Ask for Denial of Business's Cabaret Request

At a May 18th Hempstead Board of Appeals hearing, three Hempstead Town Board members asked the local zoning authority to deny the application of "Green 2009, Inc." for a cabaret license for the business, located at 3500 Sunrise Highway in Wantagh. The Board of Appeals, which is a separate and independent governmental body from the Town Board, called a rehearing on the case in an effort to receive more evidence from scores of residents who have stated that they were unaware of the initial hearing in April of last year. Additionally, some neighbors have indicated that the Board of Appeals needs to press the applicant for a more thorough explanation of what is being proposed for the site. Neighbors have expressed that a cabaret use at the location with live entertainment could create noise, traffic congestion, inadequate parking and general disturbances that would not be in harmony with the surrounding residential neighborhood.

"I want to thank the Board of Appeals for rehearing this case," stated Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray. "The first meeting did not elicit complete and thorough community input. Now the voice of the community can be clearly heard and additional important evidence can be placed in the hearing record."

Supervisor Kate Murray, Councilwoman Angie Cullin and Councilman Gary Hudes stated that more testimony from the public and more details from the property owner on the cabaret variance would be helpful to the Board of Appeals in rendering a decision.

"Neighbors need to know exactly what's being proposed for their neighborhood," stated Cullin. "I feel strongly, based upon what I've heard, that the proposal for a cabaret at 3500 Sunrise Highway will hurt the community. That's why I am opposed to it."

Murray also noted that she, along with Cullin and Hudes, has proposed stronger public notice requirements so that applications receive greater public scrutiny and do not "fly under the radar." Specifically, the new law requires that businesses seeking construction and use variances from the Board of Appeals must notify all residents within 300 feet of the subject property of the nature of their application and the hearing date. Currently, applicants must inform neighbors who live within 100 feet of the subject property. The new proposal also requires large 4' x 6' signs be posted at subject properties, notifying residents of hearings for variances. A public hearing for the proposal is scheduled for June 21st.

The Town Board members cited advertising on a website of one of the owners for another of his cabarets as a reason for the Board of Appeals to seriously question the plans for the Wantagh location. Adult entertainment advertising for the other cabaret and provocative references to the "coming soon" Wantagh location were mentioned by Murray, Hudes and Cullin as they asked the Board to consider the impact of granting a cabaret license for the Wantagh location.

"The prospect of the types of undesirable activities mentioned on the property owner's website occurring at the Wantagh location could wreak havoc on a tranquil residential neighborhood," said Hudes. "We don't want to turn a beautiful suburban community into a 'red light district.'"

The Town Board members observed that some of the damaging effects that could accompany a cabaret at the Wantagh site include late night noise, increased traffic through a residential area, overflow parking on local roadways and general neighborhood disturbances associated with a cabaret.

In closing, Supervisor Murray stated that a restaurant that is planned for the site could be an appropriate addition to the area; however, a cabaret should not be authorized for the site. The Supervisor thanked Kevin Milano and other area residents for working to "get the word out" on the hearing and for starting the dialogue on the potential impact of the proposed cabaret on the community.

"Thank you to Kevin Milano and local neighbors for making this process more thorough and for bringing important concerns to light on this proposal," concluded Murray. "This is the wrong place for a cabaret and I encourage the Board of Appeals to deny the applicant's request."