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Junk justice: City allows ‘problem’ car shop to stay open

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The city has ignored a local panel’s plea to shut down a troublesome auto repair shop that had operated without a permit for years by renewing a zoning variance that lapsed in 2003 — allowing what residents call a “junk yard” to stay in business.

On July 12 the Board of Standards and Appeals renewed the lapsed variance of LS Auto Clinic on Avenue Z in Sheepshead Bay, letting it continue to fix and hand-wash cars despite the fact that residents have been complaining about the shop since it opened more than 10 years ago.

“This [business] has absolutely no respect for the community,” said Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo, whose board voted unanimously in September against renewing the permit. “The site has been disgusting and filthy.”

Residents have filed more than 24 complaints with the Department of Buildings that call the clinic a dump. Nearby shop owners also complain that workers line the street with the shop’s broken down cars, taking up precious parking spaces that they would like to reserve for their own customers.

The city’s five-year permit does comes with several conditions that call for the shop, which is on a triangular-shaped property bordered by Avenue Z, E. 21st Street and Jerome Avenue, to become a better neighbor. Property owner Arkady Nabatov must keep the site clean, line the property with a fence and allow about half as many cars — 13 instead of 24 — to park on the property.

When the Courier visited the auto clinic on Tuesday morning, we saw litter on the sidewalk, but the rest of the area was tidy and organized. Nabatov also followed the city’s conditions, including putting up a fence and parking only six cars on the street. An illegal car wash shed, which was built last year without a permit, was also taken down.

“I have always kept the area clean,” LS Auto Clinic manager Serge, who declined to give his last name. Neither Nabatov nor his lawyer, Eric Palatnik, could be reached for comment.

And Scavo doubts that the property will be tidy for long.

“He just cleaned it up to get his permit renewed,” she said. “I guarantee the place will be back to its filthy old self in a few weeks.”

Updated 5:25 pm, July 9, 2018
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