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CB 3 rejects closing 88th St. for Budget rental car lot

Budget Rent A Car may not get quite the amount of space it wants to expand a lot in East Elmhurst after members of Community Board 3 sided against letting the company close off and acquire a portion of 88th Street.

"This action would not be beneficial to local residents," said Hamlett Wallace, co-chairman of CB 3's Land Use Committee, at a meeting last Thursday.

The board did vote to approve the rezoning of part of the Budget lot from residential to commercial, which will allow the company to make use of a previously fenced-off area. It also pushed forward the company's request to remove from planning maps a portion of 24th Avenue that was never purchased by the city and subsequently developed as residential housing.

The property owner, GTJ, owns lots on both sides of 88th Street between 23rd and 24th avenues. The company and Budget, which has a long-term lease on the site, put the proposal forward to eliminate the lengthy trips cars have to take to get from one lot to the other. The trip currently takes about a mile because of a lack of curb cuts on 88th Street, GTJ officials said.

The rezoning would enable Budget to park cars on the piece of lot by rezoning it C4-1, which allows for the lowest floor-area ratio of any commercial zoning designation. The change would enable the lot to add between 20 and 30 new spots to the 200 it already has, said Stewart Beckerman, an attorney for GTJ.

But neighbors were not keen on losing 88th Street.

"We have cars, vans buses and limousines screeching to make the light at Astoria Boulevard," said Ruth Turville, who lives next door to the lot on 87th Street and worries that closing 88th Street "means they'll be coming down 87th."

Turville also complained about employees making noise and urinating in public. Officials for GTJ and Budget said they would give residents contact information to make complaints.

"Eliminating 88th Street will decrease parking for trucks, which may start parking on 24th Avenue," said Kellen Wolfe, who lives near 88th Street and 24th Avenue.

"Parking is a separate issue," Beckerman said. "It's unrelated to our application."

GTJ and its predecessors have owned the property since 1964, Beckerman said. The site was previously the home of a bus storage lot.

The plan was scheduled for a hearing at Borough President Helen Marshall's office this Thursday at 10:30 a.m. before the city Board of Standards and Appeals issues a final decision.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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