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A. Thomas Levin Quoted In The Island Now "Playhouse Theater demolition plans adjourned in Great Neck Estates"

Feb 11, 2016Local Government and Land Use

Village of Great Neck Estates trustees voted Monday to again adjourn a public hearing on a proposal to demolish the First Playhouse Theater and replace it with an apartment complex.

Village of Great Neck Estates Mayor David Fox said the applicant requested to adjourn the hearing until the March 14 board meeting because he was waiting on plan approval from Nassau County.

"They are still waiting on the county," Fox said. "They have a meeting with them at the end of the month just to have a workshop meeting to see where the county is with this because the county is holding this whole thing up."

Hearings on the First Playhouse have been postponed for months.

The chief executive officer of the First Playhouse of Great Neck Corp., Ely Sakhai, of Old Westbury, plans to redevelop the site with an apartment complex. Sakhai also owns "The Art Collection" gallery at 39 Cutter Mill Road.

In 2004, an Old Westbury resident named Ely Sakhai pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in a 15-year art forgery operation that resulted in a 41-month prison sentence and $12.5 million fine.

The Ely Sakhai who owns the First Playhouse Theater said in an interview with Blank Slate Media that he is not the same Ely Sakhai who pleaded guilty to the art forgery, despite having an Old Westbury address.

Fox has said he was unaware of the art forgery incident and was not aware of Sakhai's background when the First Playhouse Theater proposal was introduced to the village, under the applicant name First Playhouse of Great Neck Corp.

Also at the meeting, the board set up a public hearing for the March 14 meeting to consider banning the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, in the village.

"To me, they fly these things so low sometimes and you don't want them tangled up in your power lines," Fox said. "We passed all kinds of ordinances that forced people to cut trees down or trim them when they are close to power lines."

He added that power line concerns were just a "secondary cause" to the privacy concerns caused by drones.

Village Attorney A. Thomas Levin said the law, if passed, would ban drones from the village unless they are being flown above the 400-foot required height set by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Great Neck Estates Police Sgt. Christopher Russo said police had received two complaints in the past about drones in the village.

Both instances, Russo said, were teenagers flying drones.

"You can buy these things at CVS now and fly them around for 40 bucks," he added.

The next board meeting is March 14.