On a residential Bushwick side street, residents complain a new seasonal neighbor has ruined their peace of mind.
The business — a coal-burning matzah bakery that they claim made air quality, traffic and the block’s trash situation nightmarish in the lead-up to Passover — has temporarily closed up shop, but Locust Street locals say they anticipate it starting up again this coming winter.
And if the situation is as bad as the one that just ended, they’re considering moving elsewhere.
“I don’t want to move, but I’m definitely considering it if I have to smell that smoke for three to four months a year,” a 40-something Bushwick resident of 13 years, who declined to provide her name for fear of retribution from the business, told The Post.
“If this continues, I see no choice but to move to protect our health,” added 10-year block resident Kristie, who would only provide her first name and whose borderline-asthmatic 11-year-old child has missed “a lot of school” as a result of the smoke triggering and possibly worsening the condition.
Kristie, too, experienced health issues as a result — including headaches, lowered productivity and a daily sore throat.
The Satmar Matzah Bakery did not return The Post’s request for comment, but an automated message confirmed that the facility is currently on “vacation.”
The situation started in late January when, following a period of frenzied construction, the bakery fired up a set of coal chimneys at its 38 Locust St. space, allegedly causing nearby apartments to reek of a campfire odor.
Despite ringing 311 repeatedly, various visits from FDNY, at least two inspections by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Buildings issuing the owners and their contractors multiple violations, bakery neighbors claim the situation worsened significantly after The Post reported on it in March — before abruptly stopping once Passover ended last month.
For the time being, residents say there’s been a bit of reprieve.
“It’s been great, I feel like I’ve been on vacation,” Kristie said of the weeks since the Jewish holiday ended on April 13 and the bakery stopped firing up its coal smokestacks.
The alleged amount of garbage, however, has only recently begun improving, Kristie noted.
“They’d just dump their trash on the corner of Beaver and Locust streets — bags full of trash, these massive rolls of, like, butcher paper and right next to that pile there’s a tin can of hot coals right out of the oven, all right next to parked cars,” Kristie said of the problem at its worst. “With paper, coals and gas right next to each other, my biggest concern [was] a potential explosion.”
At its peak, the vehicular problem was also hellish, with workers allegedly parking erratically, damaging other cars, rendering the sidewalk “unusable,” and causing constant honking and frequent traffic jams.
Still, residents say the worst is allegedly over, for now.
But on March 28 just before Passover began in early April, the smoke got so bad that a 13-year Bushwick resident — who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity — rang the fire department.
“I saw smoke coming out of the roof, seeping out of the bricks of the building itself,” the source said. “I realized it was something serious, so I called. They had to saw open the roof.”
After the fire, the resident assumed the bakery would at least be temporarily shut down, but a bakery worker turned one of the smokestacks back on again while FDNY was still on the roof.
When contacted about the matter, FDNY confirmed that 38 Locust St. had a fire in the ceiling above an oven on March 28, which was put under control without injury.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation responded to The Post’s request for comment to say that the bakery does not require a state-issued air permit or registration, and that no odor or opacity exceedances were observed during an inspection.
The city Department of Sanitation, meanwhile, confirmed that photos of the block showed the trash situation to be in violation and subsequently issued a written warning regarding some 30 commercial waste bags found placed on the public sidewalk.
“The property owner of 38 Locust Street obtained a temporary use approval from the New York City Department of Buildings for operation of their brick ovens in March,” a City Hall spokesperson told The Post on April 7. “Following some community complaints, city inspectors conducted multiple inspections of the facility over the past several weeks and issued enforcement actions. The temporary use approval issued by DOB expired earlier this week.”
When reached in February, a representative for the matzah bakery gave an initial response of “no comment” before adding that the smokestacks were built “according to the code, which makes the air to be clean.”