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They’re claiming grocery negligence: Neighbors want deli to stop storing food in garage • Brooklyn Paper

They’re claiming grocery negligence: Neighbors want deli to stop storing food in garage

Stop the smell!: Two Midwood Street residents, Asim Muhammad and Hermon Grant, have a petition with about 20 signatures to urge the city to finally do something about a garage stored with vegetables and fish.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

They say something fishy is going on.

The city must stop a Prospect-Lefferts Gardens deli owner from store-housing fish and produce in a residential garage, area residents say. The owner of Nostrand Avenue’s Gobwa Exotic Imports — previously Labay Market — is keeping fish and vegetables in an adjacent, Midwood Street garage, but locals say they’re fed up with the smell and garbage and want the city to finally do something about it.

“The garbage and filth and the fact that it’s a garage that they’re using to store people’s foods — crazy,” said Nathaniel Lewis, a neighbor and member of the Midwood Street 300 Block Association, which has filed complaints with the mayor, health department, and the state agriculture department to see if what the owner is doing is even legal — and if not, to shut it down.

But deli and garage owner McDonald Romain says the complaints are a red herring and blamed block association member Asim Muhammad for mounting a quixotic campaign against him.

“This guy has called every agency in the state on me, and we’ve been vindicated,” he said. “It’s an envy situation. He doesn’t want my business. He’s going to shut my business. We comply with all regulations.”

Nineteen block association members have petitioned the mayor, seeking relief from garage’s alleged stench.

“He’s not supposed to use that garage for that purpose,” Muhammad said.

Locals lodged eight complaints toward the garage since 2010 — two of them citing a dirty sidewalk — according to the city’s 311 records.

But the garage is zoned for commercial use, city records show. And state agriculture inspectors found no problems in a Feb. 5 inspection, an agency spokeswoman said.

The market appears to comply with city and state regulations, but smell is having a ripple effect on the neighborhood, Lewis said.

“This morning there were about 20 seagulls — we are not near the sea here on the corner — eating whatever it is that’s dripping down in the gutter,” he said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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