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CB 12 OKs tougher zoning measure on strip clubs

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Members of Community Board 12 approved last week a measure that would make it harder for strip clubs and other adult entertainment businesses to operate.

In other action, the board delayed a decision on whether to extend a permit for an auto supply shop on Merrick Boulevard due to area residents’ complaints about unauthorized car repairs at the store.

Community Board 12 covers Jamaica, South Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans and a northern segment of Springfield Gardens.

Land Use Committee Chairman Reuben Holder gave a report on the Adult Establishment Text Change prepared by Debra Carney from the Department of City Planning. Carney was unable to speak at the May 16 meeting because she had laryngitis.

In 1995, the Department of City Panning and the City Council adopted zoning regulations to control the adult entertainment venues which were cropping up, Holder said.

The measure were adopted as the result of study done in 1994 that showed the businesses had a significant negative impact on the city, he said.

James Davis, the chairman of Community Board 12, noted that there is still at least one strip club within the bounds of Community Board 12 and the Queens district attorney has shut down several such establishments.

The 1994 regulations required that 60 percent of the business’ space be used for entertainment which was not X-rated, said Holder and Davis.

But there were loopholes in the zoning measures and adult entertainment proprietors were quick to take advantage of them, Holder said.

For example, some adult entertainment businesses use the basement of their establishment for offices and storage, while 40 percent of the space closest to the entrance is used for X-rated material, Davis said.

“The zoning text amendment closes up the loopholes,” Holder said, referring to the change in the current adult entertainment law. “Something needed to be done.”

The Department of City Planning did not require a vote from the community board, but requested an opinion, Holder said.

Lyra Altman, an attorney pending admission to the New York State Bar, made a presentation at the meeting on behalf of the Rochdale Auto Parts store at 134-042/60 Guy Brewer Blvd. near 137th Avenue in South Jamaica.

The store, located on a commercial strip in a residential area, was granted a permit to operate 15 years ago and wanted to renew it, but several board members and community leader voiced their concern with the store.

Altman said the store does not conduct auto repairs and does not have lifts to elevate the cars during repairs, but Ruth DuBerry and other board members said they had seen lifts in operation both inside and outside the store. “Neighbors complain about the car repairs,” DuBerry said.

Altman said the store owners had promised no repairs would be done by staff on the store’s premises and if such practices are seen, the Board of Standards and Appeals should be notified.

Gertrude Gonesh from the Nellis Street and Nashville Boulevard Block Association in St. Albans said she was very concerned about the carcinogens and toxins that could penetrate the area’s water as a result of such auto repairs.

Altman said that while store workers are not permitted to do auto repairs, customers are allowed to do them on store property.

John McRae and other board member said they wanted such practices to stop and after a lengthy conversation, the board decided to hold off on their vote until next month’s meeting, when they will present a list of conditions to the store’s owner, Ray Ross.

“In the past 15 years we have had some problems and there were concerns,” Davis said of the store. “There are certain conditions we want if we do give our support.”

The board’s conditions will include: termination of car repairs on or off lifts, inside or outside the store by employees or customers; the store’s gate should be closed and locked at night; signs forbidding repairs should be posted and the permit will be for five years rather than 15.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

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