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Auburndale residents complain about auto businesses

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A crowd of Auburndale residents vented their frustrations at the managers of four automotive businesses in the area Friday afternoon at a meeting arranged by Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

The residents, who numbered about 15, contended that the businesses in the environs of 172nd Street and Station Road have brought a host of problems recently, including excess noise, inconsiderate truck drivers and too many parked cars.

The meeting was attended by about 10 representatives of the four businesses.

About a year ago, Star Toyota and Star Nissan opened at 171-20 Station Rd., Cunningham Parts and Service opened at 44-40 172nd St., and Ace Party & Tent Rental opened at 171-27 Station Rd. in buildings that had sat vacant for years.

The three joined Baron Lincoln Mercury at 39-20 Utopia Parkway, resulting in four commercial businesses in the middle of an otherwise residential neighborhood.

At Friday’s meeting, which was held in front of the entrance to Star Nissan, local resident Jack Soulier read off a list of complaints about the four businesses. The list included cars parked in front of nearby homes for extended periods of time, large trucks that make deliveries, block traffic and sometimes even slam into parked cars as well as an excess of garbage and an overgrowth of weeds around Cunningham Parts.

Residents also said car alarms were going off inside the businesses, with the noise heard around the neighborhood because the businesses left their garage doors open.

“It’s not only annoying, but kids are waking from their naps,” Soulier said.

Avella told both factions he did not want voices raised during the meeting, saying he wanted to solve the problem.

“You are going to have to live together,” he said.

For the most part, Avella took the side of the residents, telling the businesses that they would have to improve their practices.

Some of the managers said they were taking steps to address the complaints. A representative of Cunningham Part, who did not want to give his name, said the condition of the property was going to be improved.

“I do what I can to be a good neighbor,” he said. “I try.”

John Koufakis of Star Nissan also told the residents they were trying to help them, explaining he grew up in the area.

“It is in our very own interest to be good neighbors and to live in peaceful co-existence,” Koufakis said. “You are our neighbors. Many of you are also our customers.”

But the managers said they would continue some of their other practices.

The Cunningham Parts representative said it is impossible for trucks to unload materials on the property since there is not enough room for the trucks to fit.

Some residents, however, were not satisfied with that answer.

“What that essentially tells us is that the dynamics of this area are wrong for your business,” said Sean Callan, another resident.

Avella agreed.

“Loading and unloading should be done on your property,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. I refuse to give in on that.”

Frank Johnson, a service manager for Baron, kept quiet during the meeting as residents accused him of allowing work to occur on the street in front of his property.

Afterward, Johnson admitted the outdoor work may have happened once or twice. He called the meeting “one-sided,” saying the company did not need to change its practices.

“I feel I’m working with the neighbors,” he said.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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