Board 7 voices its support for Whitestone gas station

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Over the objections of a small group of residents, Community Board 7 voted to recommend approving a variance under certain specific conditions for a Whitestone gas station that wants to erect a canopy over its pump.

The board then supported the changing of a narrow Flushing block into a one-way street after residents complained of dangerous conditions on the sidewalks at Monday’s meeting at the Union Plaza Nursing Home at 33-23 Union St.

A Flushing resident also told the board she was starting a petition in light of a deadly 26th Avenue accident in which a driver has been accused of driving while drunk.

Henry Brusic, a Whitestone resident, came before the board with a request for approval to make improvements to his gas station at 10th Avenue Auto Service, located at 10-02 Clintonville St.

Brusic’s application also called for the installation of a service booth under the canopy and approval of larger underground gas tanks, which have been already installed.

Two years ago, Community Board 7, which covers Flushing, Whitestone, College Point and Bay Terrace, voted to approve the variance. But the city Board of Standards and Appeals, which has the final say on the matter, did not approve the application.

It was not immediately clear why BSA rejected granting the variance. Brusic’s attorney, Howard Zipser, said the application had been poorly presented. William Warr, a neighbor of the station, said BSA did not want Brusic pumping diesel at the station.

Zipser said the new application differed in that the station, located on a truck route, was no longer seeking to offer diesel.

Warr, however, was not satisfied with the new application.

“His intent has always been to make it a 24-hour truck stop,” he said. “He is not a good neighbor to the area.”

Warr said he had collected a petition signed by 34 neighbors against the variance.

Other neighbors, however, said a petition with even more signatures had been circulated in favor of the variance.

“It is an enhancement,” said one of those neighbors, Joe Bono. “It will be an improvement ... It’s not going to be an eyesore.”

In an attempt to balance the concerns of both parties, the board added a stipulation forbidding Brusic to provide diesel fuel or self-service. The board then approved recommending the variance, 38-1, with one member abstaining. BSA will decide whether or not to grant the amended variance.

The board then discussed changing a block of Smart Street from Cherry Avenue to 45th Avenue in Flushing into a one-way street.

The city Department of Transportation is conducting a traffic study of the area and has already recommended changing the block to a one-way street. With residents vocal about changing the narrow street as quickly as possible, the board had decided to go ahead on voting on the issue instead of waiting for the study to be completed.

“You need Vaseline for two cars to pass each other, that’s how narrow it is,” said John Tsavalos, a member of the board.

Joan Chan, who lives on the block, feared for the safety of her young child.

“[The cars] tend to run on my sidewalk to pass the other car,” she said. “It creates a safety hazard, not only for my child, but for everyone on the block.”

The board voted to recommend the change unanimously.

Toward the end of the meeting, Barbara Neocleous, a resident of 26th Avenue, told the board of a petition she had started to put speed bumps on her street.

Michael Callas, a 32-year-old resident of 26th Avenue, was struck and killed crossing the street the early morning of Sept. 29. Michael Carillo, 22, who was driving the car that struck Callas, was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to the Queens district attorney.

Neocleous said nearby Memorial Field of Flushing had become a late night hangout, and people leaving the field often drove down 26th Avenue.

“They’re there until sometimes 7 in the morning drinking and doing drugs,” she said. “It’s not safe anymore. This tragedy should have never happened.”

Earlier in the meeting, the board voted to recommend allowing a one-family Whitestone home to build a second story. The home at 166-03 21st Rd. needed a variance because its front yard is not in conformance to zoning laws.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Updated 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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