By Kelsey Durham
The future of a Bayside car dealership now rests in the borough president’s hands.
Melinda Katz held a hearing at her office last week to hear arguments from Star Toyota, at 205-11 Northern Blvd., about its request to renew a variance to continue operating at the location. The application was denied unanimously by Community Board 11 at its meeting earlier this month, but the final decision now belongs to Katz.
CB 11 cited several reasons for asking the borough president to consider denying the request from Star Toyota, including a handful of alleged variance violations that the board members say have led to neighbors complaining about the business interfering with their quality of life.
The attorney representing the dealership who spoke at the Sept. 18 hearing did not return a request for comment.
Henry Euler, a member of CB 11 and first vice president of the Auburndale Improvement Association, said the owner of the dealership, John Koufakis, has violated the current variance over the past five years by using the building’s side parking lot as a sales showroom rather than for parking for his employees and customers as agreed upon when the variance was last renewed in 2009. The community board said this has led to severe parking problems on streets surrounding the business, and Euler said neighbors have begun complaining about noise from shoppers testing out cars.
“We just want him to be a good neighbor, that’s basically what it’s all about,” said Euler. “If he’s a good neighbor and he’s cooperative and does what he should, everyone will be happy.”
Euler said the dealership has also rattled neighbors by taking almost a year to put up a fence the variance required him to have and by leaving the gates to the dealership open at night, which homeowners fear is inviting trouble to the area.
“We’ve tried talking to him and everything we have tried doesn’t seem to work with him,” Euler said. “The community is at its wits end.”
Euler, who was one of four CB 11 members who spoke at the meeting at Katz’s office last week, said the borough president seemed to listen carefully to both sides of the argument. He said if Katz denied the variance, Star Toyota would have to move its business to a new place, but Euler said it is rare for variances to be denied and he does not anticipate that happening.
A representative from Katz’s office said the borough president expects to have a decision on the issue in the next couple of weeks, and Euler said whatever the outcome is, he hopes the owner of the dealership becomes more willing to work with the community on its concerns.
“We’re just trying to send a very strong message to him that he can’t keep violating his variance,” Euler said.
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.