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Noise, Traffic and Flour at Noodle Plant Drives East Williamsburg Nabe Nuts

By Gwynne Hogan | April 17, 2017 1:31pm
 TMI Trading Co's ramped up noodle production is driving their neighbors crazy, residents said.
TMI Noodle Factory
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EAST WILLIAMSBURG — A burgeoning noodle company's idling trucks, blizzard of flour and loud, banging workers is driving neighbors insane with its lo mein.

While Bushwick Place residents lived in relative harmony with TMI Trading Co. for more than a decade, the noodle and dumpling factory was purchased several years back by corporation CJ America and since 2014 they've noticed a dramatic increase in traffic and noise on the block.

The company's trucks often drowned out 60-year-old Pedro Hernandez' conversations inside his Bushwick Place home, he said.

"If speak to my wife, I have to yell at my wife," Hernandez said. "We had a meeting [with the company] but nothing has resolved. It seems it has gotten worse."

Idling for more than three minutes is illegal, according to city regulations.

TMI's trucks will block the street several times a day, causing drivers trying to get through to drive up onto the sidewalk in order to pass. 

Residents have logged dozens of 311 complaints for noise, traffic and idling violations, spoken with local elected officials, and even organized a sit-down meeting with the company about a year ago, though none of their efforts seem to have any effect.

"To say that they don't give a s--t would be the understatement of a century," said frustrated neighbor Vanessa Trost, 47, who has an office for her marketing company on the block.

The noise of idling trucks is, "not quite as loud as a helicopter, but now it's three times a day and it takes three hours to unload that truck," said Tony Leventhal, 52, Trost's husband, who runs a recording studio from the same office. "We're looking at nine hours a day."

Trucks backing up onto sidewalks have narrowly missed children walking to and from P.S. 196 around the corner, residents said.

"Does a kid have to get hit at that corner before someone takes action?" Trost wondered.

Neighbors also complain about noise when workers bang on flour delivery trucks with mallets to loosen the flour inside and say that the flour hose occasionally comes loose and sprays the whole block with the white substance.

A representative from the noodle company said they are sympathetic to the neighbors, but don't see the problems improving in the near future.

"We definitely want to work with the community to try to resolve the issue. We don't want the neighborhood to complain about us," said Larry Zheng, an accounting manager at TMI, who said the company now employs 390 people in East Williamsburg. "We’re growing. We have more business and that's why there's more traffic. Right now, I don't have much of a solution."

The issues on Bushwick Place echo tensions other industrial businesses face as the neighborhood's population grows and restaurants, bars and clubs take over formerly industrial spaces, pulling in even more foot traffic. East Williamsburg residents are also organizing against trash transfer stations in the area.

"Obviously, they have the right to operate, but they can't take over the neighborhood at the expense of other people," Trost said of the noodle shop. "They're all used to operating in an empty space but Bushwick is not an empty space anymore."