New York City’s hipster capital has been hit with a problem straight out of a Charles Dickens novel.
Brooklyn residents say a newly built smokestack has ruined the air quality in their corner of Bushwick — but despite their coughed complaints, they claim it continues to pollute the neighborhood with its burning odor.
“This business just went in and we are getting smoked out,” 37-year-old artist Marie told The Post of the Satmar Matzah Bakery, which recently moved next door to her apartment of 11 years. (She declined to give her full name for fear of retribution from the business.) Following a period of frenzied construction at its new 38 Locust St. location, the bakery fired up its freshly built black chimneys in late January — and quality of life on the block immediately plummeted, Locust Street denizens claim.
“I was honestly hoping that I would just get used to it and it wouldn’t be an issue,” Marie said, adding that the odor permeates her building’s hallways as well as her apartment.
Although bad from the start, the situation got distinctly worse after the pallets of wood lining the sidewalk were joined by a “massive” pile of coal around Feb. 17.
“I had never seen coal in real life before,” Marie said, and soon after it appeared, “it was like the back of my throat was stinging. There was a distinct, like, chemically smell and my dog was sneezing constantly.” She’s found she also now needs to clear her throat more often, but her health concerns shrink in contrast to the exasperation she feels regarding how “awful” the situation is.
“The air quality in the neighborhood … you can really just smell smoke all the time,” said 24-year-old Xavier McCormick, who has lived on the block for two years and worries for the children at a nearby elementary school. “I’m not going to say the air quality in our 100-plus-year-old building is great, but now it just consistently smells like smoke.”
Xavier hasn’t personally noticed any resultant health issues, but he notes that his apartment is on the backside of his building, far away from the stacks. Still, though, he finds the situation concerning, and feels especially bad for longtime neighborhood residents.
Indeed, the campfire scent is so strong that it impacts a “couple-block radius,” 32-year-old musician, actor and block resident Jake (who also declined to provide his full name) told The Post. Even when his windows are closed, the scent overwhelms his apartment and sticks to some of his clothing. Sometimes, he finds that he himself smells like smoke.
“They’re, like, constantly pumping out some type of smoke and there’s no getting used to the smell,” Jake said, adding that since the smokestacks began puffing at the end of January he has begun experiencing a mild lung irritation, although he’s not certain if that’s related to the smoke.
“Smokestacks are legal in New York but I don’t know if they’re legal on this block,” Manhattan real estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey told The Post.
The city Department of Buildings’ website shows the property currently has two open violations, both issued this month. One is for “unlawfully continued work” — including the installation of a new rooftop mechanical unit, electrical systems and a sprinkler — and the other for work without a permit.
Jake has rung 311 multiple times, and recently noticed a Stop Work Order on 38 Locust St.’s door. This week, he noticed a separate permit on the building, this one announcing the bakery’s application to be converted into a house of worship.
Yet, despite the order and two FDNY visits, Jake has witnessed, the smoke has continued “almost 24/7 — they keep pushing along without any consequences.”
When reached by phone, a representative for the Satmar 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.”
In response to The Post’s request for comment, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed they’d inspected the facility — which they determined does not require a state-issued air permit or registration — and observed no air quality issues.
Multiple city agencies, however, agreed the smokestacks are an ongoing problem.
“In response to complaints from members of the public, DOB has conducted multiple inspections of this building over the past several weeks,” Department of Buildings press secretary Andrew Rudansky told The Post on behalf of the DOB, FDNY and the Department of Environmental Protection. “During these inspections we have issued violations to the owners and their contractors related to ongoing construction work at the location that was not up to code … we are currently coordinating with our agency partners at DEP and FDNY to investigate the issue further.”
Although the city is apparently aware and taking action to fix the problem, block residents complain the situation remains ridiculous.
“We’re so bewildered by how blatant everything has been,” said Marie. “It just seems really shady.”