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Bazaar accusation! Local publicly claims politically connected community board member of trying to kill grocery store

Bazaar accusation! Local publicly claims politically connected community board member of trying to kill grocery store
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

She’s got this market cornered!

A Brighton Beach property owner exploded at the leader of a neighborhood business group during Community Board 13’s Feb. 24 meeting, publicly accusing the commerce honcho of using her influence to try and shutter his tenants’ grocery business as a favor to members of her trade group.

“You’re a crook!” property owner Aron Bronstein shouted at community board member and Brighton Beach Business Improvement District director Yelena Makhnin before the board’s chairman had him removed from the meeting.

Bronstein owns the Brighton Beach Avenue building housing the Master Theater and the Gourmanoff supermarket. A sliver of the structure — about 10 percent — is actually zoned for residential rather than commercial uses, and Bronstein wants the community board to support his request for a city variance letting the grocery store operate despite the zoning quirk.

Makhnin suggested the board table the ask until tenants finish upgrading a fire-sprinkler system covering the upstairs theater and a ground-floor lobby the venue shares with Gourmanoff.

Bronstein contends that Makhnin is obstructing the process because the business improvement district’s president owns an adjacent building that houses a competing supermarket. But Makhnin denied political motivation and said she is only interested in making the building safe.

“I don’t have any objections to any business or any landlord — the only objection I have is I believe crucial violations and issues such as fire safety should be cleared before any application with the city is cleared,” Makhnin said.

Bronstein is upgrading the building’s fire system “above and beyond” what law requires, he said. But Fire Department inspectors would not approve the new system during a December inspection — and that’s cause enough to wait, Makhnin said.

The board ultimately voted on the proposal, but members didn’t render enough affirmative votes, so the motion died, according to officials from Borough President Adams’s office that the board had to call in to officiate the contentious tally.

Bronstein’s attorney can still ask the city for the variance — but without a letter of approval from the board, the lawyer said.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlync[email protected]local.com.

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