By Tom Momberg
Community Board 11 voted unanimously Monday night to recommend that the city deny a zoning variance for BP to make improvements at the Bayside station, 204-12 Northern Blvd., just west of the Clearview Expressway, due to alleged violations on the property by the company’s current tenant and caretaker.
Nearby residents complained the operator leasing the BP station had been conducting business out of the convenience store when it was supposed to be closed pending inspection, that junked cars were being stored in the parking lot and the operator had been accepting rent for vehicle storage, all in violation of the business’ zoning variance.
BP submitted the application to amend the zoning variance so that it could do some landscaping, reconfigure the parking lot, alter curb cuts, replace the underground gas storage tank and install a 17-feet-high canopy over the pumps.
The application did not try to extend the term on the current variance, which is set to expire in 2021.
Attorney Michael Nacmias, speaking on behalf of BP, pointed out that the application to alter the original zoning variance granted when the petrol giant took the station over from Getty in 2011 is only to make improvements to the site.
Nacmias noted there have been issues with the current tenant and operator of the gas station and automotive service center, which he is trying to resolve with BP in an effort to possibly find a new candidate for operations.
But he said the issues with the current tenant should have no bearing on the community board’s decision to approve the plans for improvement, because the complaints the community has had with the operator were unrelated and could not be made worse by improving the site.
The community board zoning committee met with Nacmias in May and brought up a few concerns in the details for the improvement plans, which BP addressed. One of those concerns was the operator was using mobile storage units on the site for auto part storage and office space — which were removed after complaints were filed.
The committee initially recommended the board approve the plans because its concerns had been met. But in light of opposition from neighbors and new knowledge that the current operator has been storing totaled and junked cars in the parking lot and on the street, the committee chairman recommended at the last minute that the board turn down the application.
The vote by the community board was unanimous. The application is supposed to go before Borough President Melinda Katz at a zoning hearing in the coming months, along with the recommendation from CB 11 to deny the application.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb