By Rebecca Henely
More than 100 residents and members of various civic associations in Bellerose rallied early Saturday morning against a supermarket on Hillside Avenue, Super Halal Meat, which they allege is operating without proper permitting and is creating a hazard in the community.ï»¿
“We all want new businesses in the community, but they have to play by the rules,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village.
Richard Hellenbrecht, secretary/treasurer of the Bellerose Common Wealth Civic Association and a past chairman of Community Board 13, said that since the supermarket moved into the location at 253-06 Hillside Ave., which was formerly a Blockbuster video rental store and a dry cleaners, in the summer and opened last month, the building owners have done many extensions on the front and side of the building without getting the proper permits. He also claimed the building had no certificate of operation.
“We need to get the Buildings Department to actually do something,” Hellenbrecht said.
Hellenbrecht and other protesters had numerous additional complaints about the building: the trucks that deliver to the supermarket are not appropriate for the residential streets such as 253rd Street, cars overflow from the parking lot and double park along 253rd Street, rats have been seen at nearby houses, the store has its lights on in the evenings and cars backing out of the lot have to go along Hillside Avenue, which is a major road, and they are closer to the street because of the new extension.
“It’s terribly dangerous,” Hellenbrecht said.
Steve Veissy, spokesman for Super Halal Meat, said the three brothers who own the store want to meet with the community and show that they have complied with problems and will comply with any future problems.
He said he sent the owners away during the protest and believed some protesters wanted a confrontation.
“I guess all of the sudden there’s a change and that’s what the neighborhood got up in arms about,” Veissy said.
Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) said he and CB 13 had a meeting and the Department of Buildings, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Health Department did an inspection of the site Friday. Weprin said the agencies found that some problems residents had complained aboutwere fixed, but the study is not complete and the agencies will get back to his office with more information.
“If they’re acting properly, I’m happy to have them in the neighborhood. If they’re acting improperly, they have to correct it,” Weprin said.
Ryan Fitzgibbons, spokeswoman for the DOB, said the property has had seven violations that needed to have a hearing with the Environmental Control Board. Two, which were issued to the construction company, have been resolved. The additional five are pending a hearing.
Many of the protesters focused on getting the building owners to address the violations, although some claimed the operators could be illegal immigrants. Other protesters chided the latter.
“Some people are getting out of control,” said Terry Pilosi, 52, a resident of Bellerose.
The management of the supermarket said in a release it had made changes to respond to the community’s complaints. They said they had hired people to direct traffic out of the lot, no longer took deliveries from 253rd Street, shut off the lights at night and had an exterminator inspect the building every week.
“We are here for the community. We want to work with them and make them happy by all means,” the management said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.