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CB 10: Planet Fitness Does Not Fit

Because a gym along Westchester Avenue appears to be operating against city regulations, Community Board 10 members are taking matters into their own hands.

At the Thursday, June 17 meeting, the board voted against recommending the Board of Standards and Appeal amend a previously granted permit to Planet Fitness, which allows them to operate on the second floor of the building at 2241 Westchester Avenue.

The amendment would allow the company to slightly reduce their operations there, but the board voted against supporting the measure because Planet Fitness has not lived up to several requests the board has made. Chief among the requests is that the company cease 24-hour operations, which violates the BSA conditions, according to board officials.

“The BSA never gave them permission to operate 24-hours a day. They gave them certain time parameters to operate in. They are now operating on a 24-hour basis. We asked them not to operate on a 24-hour basis and we gave them a series of other conditions that we said they needed to comply with in order to be a good neighbor and then we would support their effort,” CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns said.

“What we will do now is write a letter to the Board of Standards and Appeals totally opposing their permit requests because they are not working with the community.”

Along with requesting that the gym follow BSA regulations to only operate between 5 a.m. and midnight, the board also asked the company to equip the building with a fire alarm and sprinkler system, obtain a valid certificate of occupancy, restrict weekday hours from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., get uniformed security guards on site during operations, utilize best management practices in working with the community, have a manager present during operations, tint windows to prevent glare, regularly clean the parking lot of trash and snow, and post signs throughout the facility telling patrons they are in a residential area and that they should be respectful of the community.

The board voted eight against supporting the permit amendment, with two in favor and 25 abstaining. Officials with both the BSA and Planet Fitness did not return phone calls for comment.

According to CB 10 member Bob Bieder, the company has put up signs telling the people that use the facility to be respectful of the neighbors, but that is not enough. He said security is still an issue and the company is not respecting the community’s needs.

“There’s noise issues. People come out in the middle of the night, and they got their radios blasting and they’re chatting. You get that 24/7,” he said, adding that he recently spoke with officials from the 45th Precinct about enforcing the violations. “It’s like nobody knows what to do.”

Kearns said he is hopeful the gym will become a better corporate neighbor, since hearing that a Staten Island branch recently agreed to reduce its hours, and so the Westchester Avenue location may follow suit.

“They say the sticking point is that their business model tells them they need to operate on a 24-hour basis, and we’re saying, ‘no you don’t’,” Kearns said. “It’s really sad that they would be that insensitive, because I don’t imagine that they’re making much money in the middle of the night.”

There is a BSA hearing on the matter set for August 3.

Reach reporter Max Mitchell at (718) 742-3394 or mmitchell@cnglocal.com

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