Residents who live near the chronically crime-troubled 45th Street Bazaar are angry that the city backed off a chance to shut down the business.
The city says its attorneys killed Nuisance Abatement Board agenda item Thursday on the bazaar’s alleged violations because the city didn’t have to legal authority to take action.
The property, formerly known as the 45th Street Flea Market, the site of multiple shootings through the years, was scheduled to come before the city’s panel for allegedly violating requirements that it have working security cameras and that it report crimes on the premises to police.
The Westfield Neighborhood Association was hoping that, after years of hearings, fines and sanctions, the board would finally move to end years of aggravation and close the business.
“We were very disappointed that they did not allow the process to go through,” association President Jacqueline Smith said Sunday. “We did not receive our due process and the Nuisance Abatement Board did not hear the testimony of the officer who originally had this item placed on the agenda.”
Offered the chance to comment, Mayor Jeri Muoio had her spokesman Elliot Cohen respond. Cohen said the item was dropped for legal reasons.
“The law allows you one year from the violation, during which you can issue orders and impose requirements and restrictions on a property,” he said. “During that year, we did just that. There were multiple orders and restrictions.
“But once one year passes from the violations that started the process, a government is no longer allowed to impose new orders. In other words, you can’t indefinitely impose on someone’s private property rights. Even if there are new violations during the year, you need to wait for the year to expire before restarting the clock again.”
Neighbors say the board could have acted at the meeting Thursday because the year wasn’t up until Friday. It’s too late now, but spokesman Cohen says if new violations are committed, then the process will start again.
“We’re back at zero,” Nuisance Abatement Board member Alan Mentser said Monday. He said he understood the city not wanting to risk getting sued by the bazaar operator, but that because of the report of a nonfunctioning security camera and of failing to notify police of an armed robbery, “I would have loved to have slapped them with a couple more fines.”
“If I were a betting man, I would suspect that before the end of the year something might come back,” he added. “I can assure you, the next go-around I’m going to be banging on everybody on the board to shut it down.”
Jonathan E. Jones, attorney for Bazaar operator Charlie Yoo, did not return messages requesting comment.
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