Updated Friday, Sept. 19
Members of the Bayside community urged Borough President Melinda Katz to uphold Community Board 11’s decision to remove a Star Toyota and Scion dealership from the area during a hearing Thursday morning.
“For 40 years, this business has been a bad neighbor,” a community board 11 member said. “There’s excess noise in the night and in the day. Unlicensed cars constantly speed through the neighborhood, blowing every stop sign.”
Katz didn’t make a decision during the meeting but she remained skeptical that the dealership was sincere about responding to the community’s complaints about broken sidewalks, trash and fixing the fence.
The dealership’s manager, Michael Koufakis, didn’t attend the meeting but his lawyer, Todd Dale, said that all of the issues that the community raised were addressed.
“When presented with these problems, we took care of it,” he said, referring to the broken sidewalks and fence and all of the trash in the area.
“I find that, as borough president, people clean up right before these meetings and then they go back to their bad habits afterwards,” Katz said.
According to Katz’s spokesman, the borough president will make a decision to either allow the variance to be renewed or echo Community Board 11’s decision. She plans on making her decision before the case goes to the Board of Appeals (BSA), the last stop before a final decision is made. The variance allows the business to operate in a residential zone as long as it cooperates with the community board.
Neighbors of the dealership hope that the BSA and Katz will reject the variance application.
Rennie Xosa lives behind the dealership’s parking lot. He, as well as community board members, said that the lot is used by the dealership to showcase cars to customers, an act that would be illegal under the business’ zoning rules.
“I have this beautiful backyard but I often can’t use it because there are people over there checking the car alarm system, honking the horn, testing how loud the radio goes and all of these other things that shouldn’t be going on there,” Xosa said. “I won’t let these people kick me out of my own neighborhood. I’m staying here and fighting them.”