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THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Updated Wednesday, Sept. 17, 4:38 p.m.

Community Board 11 unanimously refused to renew a zoning variance that allowed a Bayside Toyota dealership to operate in a residential area after neighbors complained.

Star Toyota and Scion has been operating on Northern Boulevard for 40 years with the variance, but locals want the dealership gone for being, according to one board member, a “bad neighbor.”

“The community wants them removed because they don’t respect us,” said board member Steven Behar. “It’s as simple as that.”

Residents complained that the dealership parked their cars on residential streets and illegally dumped garbage in the neighborhood.

As a requirement of the variance, the dealership must meet with the community board every 10 years so their business can be reviewed.

After reviewing the business this time, the board decided to act on the complaints and vote down the renewal.

There are two more steps in the process: Borough President Melinda Katz is expected to announce a decision on Sept. 18 and, if she supports the community board’s decision, the Board of Standards and Appeals will make a final decision.

“We’re hoping that with the new [mayoral] administration and a real show of community support, we can have the BSA do what’s right for the community,” Behar said. “We’ve tried to solve this with them but they wouldn’t work with us so now it’s come to this.”

But Michael Koufakis, the dealership’s manager, said he’s open to the community’s complaints.

“I’m here every day. If anyone has any concerns, they can call me and I’ll make a reasonable effort to resolve it,” he said. “We will be addressing some of the issues that came to our attention through the community board.”

Further west on Northern Boulevard, a Flushing real estate business attempted to remove a condition in a similar variance.

Paul Luciano, owner of Utopia Real Estate, asked Community Board 7 to remove a restriction contained in the variance that prevents the building’s owner from making any alterations without the board’s permission.

But the board voted to maintain its power over the business, which has been in Flushing since 1957, by keeping the conditions of the variance in place.

“They [the community board] just want to hold the power over us for no reason,” Luciano said.
But locals said they feared changes would alter the nature of the neighborhood.

“If we’re not careful, our area will start to look like Main Street,” resident Terri Pouymari said.

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