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A towing company criticized for using the streets of Maspeth as a private junkyard was temporarily bounced from a city program, and documents from the city Department of Buildings indicate that it should not even be operating a wrecking business at all..
American Collision, at 60-05 Flushing Ave., is no longer allowed to tow cars from accident sites on behalf of the NYPD as part of a city program, according to the city Department of Consumer Affairs, which suspended the towing company’s privileges until a hearing is conducted July 14.
The business has drawn heavy criticism for leaving banged-up autos parked along nearby residential streets, which neighbors said takes up parking spots and makes the neighborhood look bad.
“When a company has been doing what American Collision has been doing for so many years, abusing the neighborhood and turning our streets into a junkyard, they don’t deserve to be part of any city program that is funded by taxpayers,” said Bob Holden, civic leader and vocal critic of the company. DCA’s suspension came from two complaints that the company overcharged for their services, and an inspection revealed that the business did not have log books required to participate in the program on hand.
Holden, along with other activists, lauded the department’s decision.
“I’m glad to see that the DCA is at least listening, and we hope that American Collision cleans up their act,” he said.
Someone who answered the phone at American Collision said the company had no comment.
But according to American Collision’s certificate of occupancy, it is only allowed up to five parking spaces, and even received a violation in 2008 for storing junked autos on the site, according to a spokeswoman for the DOB.
“In February 2008, we issued a violation to the property owner, Polina Loumakos, for using the five parking spaces to store damaged vehicles,” said Ryan Fitzgibbon.
In addition, the certificate stipulates the property is only zoned for auto and boat sales, or auto maintenance.
Fitzgibbon said the DOB has not received any complaints about the property.
The July 14 hearing will decide whether American Collision will be booted from the Directed Accident Response Program, basically a list of certified businesses that the NYPD can call to tow away disabled vehicles. Someone involved in an accident cannot call his or her own tow truck and must use the company that comes up next on the rotating list.
Other civic leaders said Maspeth is not anti-business, but that the towing business is simply not a good neighbor.
“We want every business to succeed, but you have to work with the community,” said Tony Nunziato. “Everything they are doing is wrong.”
Even after the suspension from the DCA, and from roughly 86 violations that have been issued by the 104th Precinct in March and April, the company was still storing the cars on the streets. Two tow trucks carrying multiple junked cars were parked along a Flushing Avenue service road Friday evening.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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