Another chapter has been added to the ongoing saga between Star Nissan’s service center and its Flushing neighbors, as the problematic business copped to hacking off parts of 21 young trees that ring its property, planted by the city over a year ago.
The dealership has been a perpetual source of frustration for residents in the surrounding neighborhood, who have complained about everything from noise in the service area to cars parked up on the street.
“This has become an annual ritual,” said Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) at a press conference on Monday in front of Star Nissan’s location at 40-20 172 St. “We’re here to let them know they cannot continue to walk all over the community and do whatever they want.”
The latest infraction involves trees surrounding Star Nissan, recently planted by the city. The dealership admitted to cutting the lowest branches off the trees, wracking up $84,000 in fines. The trees are so young that, in some cases, one can still completely wrap a hand around the trunk.
No member of the Star Nissan staff was willing to talk to the media after the press conference.
“We will never get the tree canopy back to what it was before the trees were damaged,” said Rhea O’Gorman, president of the Station Road Civic. She added workers at Star Nissan claimed the trees were pruned of low-hanging branches that posed a danger to pedestrians walking in the neighborhood.
Members of the community claimed Star Nissan’s dealings with the trees are not a recent problem, as the Parks Department had to plant the saplings under duress. Their first try allegedly ended in Star Nissan employees harassing city workers into leaving. Parks workers eventually returned with the police in tow, according to protestors at the rally.
The most recent tree incident renewed calls for the removal of Steve Hausman, a manager whom protesters insult on their posters; a man civic activists said is enabled by an absentee owner.
Hausman declined to comment.
Chrissy Voskerichian, also of the Station Road Civic and a candidate for City Council, said pruning the trees cost the community exponentially in lost future greenery.
“The act that took place here was not only a crime,” she said. “It set this community back 10 years.”
Activists made several demands to remedy what they repeatedly called a crime, requesting the damaged trees be moved to a green space within the borough and be replaced by 20 new mature trees to surround Star Nissan.
They also called for the removal or transfer of Hausman, while also asking for the institution of a community liaison who would provide a bit more communication between the business and neighborhood.