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Jax Hts mart removes illegal sidewalk shed

TimesLedger Newspapers

In response to a community outcry and violations from the city Environmental Control Board, a Trade Fair supermarket on 75th Street in Jackson Heights removed its sidewalk enclosure Saturday, City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said.

The councilman and community members had held a protest against the sidewalk enclosure earlier this year, saying the shed-like structure was illegal and a fire hazard.

“I am glad that Trade Fair has finally complied with the law,” Dromm said in a statement. “I know that many in the community will be relieved that their calls, letters and e-mails have been successful in forcing Trade Fair to be a responsible neighbor.”

Trade Fair is a chain of 11 supermarkets, all of which are in western Queens. The chain caters to immigrants who live in the diverse neighborhoods, offering a variety of foods from countries in the Middle East and Latin America, as well as Italy and Greece. The supermarkets also offer Halal and organic foods.

The stores often set up sidewalk enclosures outside their storefronts where fruit and soda are displayed. Residents who live near one of the Jackson Heights locations, at 75-07 37th Ave., contended the enclosure was a fire hazard and that it was unfair that the company could take up so much of the sidewalk without paying fees like restaurants that operate sidewalk cafes.

“Sidewalks are public property,” Dromm said, “and no one person or business can take advantage and just take for their own use what is owned by the people of our community.”

The 37th Avenue and 75th Street store also received a partial vacate order from the city Department of Buildings in August 2011. The DOB said the extension was illegal, not constructed correctly and a potential hazard. The city Environmental Control Board also cited the chain with a violation when it did not take the enclosure down.

Martin Jacobson, a certified public accountant representing Trade Fair, said in an interview with TimesLedger Newspapers last month that the chain planned to defend itself, as the enclosure had a sprinkler system and points of egress, but the sidewalk enclosure ended up coming down anyway.

“I hope that Trade Fair will take this opportunity to start a new relationship with the community, one that is based on respect and cooperation,” Dromm said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 781-260-4564.

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