Community Board 7 denied a variance extension for a nearly century-old Whitestone gas station at Monday’s monthly meeting.
Lessees of the site, located at 157-30 Willets Point Blvd., sought to rearrange the parking lot, install a handicap ramp to the accompanying convenience store, add new landscaping and legalize a number of changes that had been made without consent from the Board of Standards and Appeals. Those included the addition of U-Haul truck rentals, an illuminated price sign, self-service car wash, air pump and vacuum stations and the rearranging of the convenience store layout.
The U-Haul rental program raised red flags for a number of board members, several of whom were skeptical that there would be enough parking to accommodate an unknown number of rentals on top of cars in for service.
While some were concerned that there would not be enough room in the parking lot to turn around in a U-Haul, others raised questions about the hours of operation and whether rentals could be dropped off at all times of the day. The latter, in addition to a number of other questions the board posed to a representative from contractor Nasir J. Khanzada LLC — both during a prior Zoning Committee meeting and this week — remained unanswered.
First Vice Chair Chuck Appelian said there was simply not enough room at the site to accommodate all of the applicant’s amenities.
“They’ve been trying to put ... 10 pounds into a five-pound bag,” he said. “With the car wash, the convenience store, the 24-hour operation of the pumps and the U-Haul site, I think it’s very egregious that they’re trying to just jam all this into the site.”
Chair Gene Kelty was particularly upset by the unauthorized installations.
“This guy didn’t care and say, ‘Stop doing illegal stuff until we get the approval from the community board that we could do that.’ It just kept operating illegally,” Kelty said.
“My answer is turn this site down, and we’re turning it down because all the illegalities he had, he continued to do that illegally, and decided [to wait] until the end of his variance. Then he decided to try to make them legalized. He’s not a good applicant.”
It seems the board agreed: Members voted 40-0 with three abstentions to disapprove the variance extension.