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CB 11 variance OK has neighbors peeved

Community Board 11 voted 30-14 Monday night in favor of extending the term of a variance for the commercial property at the corner of 192nd Street and Northern Boulevard.

Barone Properties received an initial 15-year variance in 1984 and a second one in 1999, both of which allowed for commercial use in the R3 — residential low-density — zone. The current variance expired in 2009 and the property’s certificate of occupancy expired in 2006. The property is home to Pier 1 Imports, Gothic Cabinet Craft and 190 Street Auto Repair.

The original variance contained 17 conditions that included requirements that the parking lot on the western side of the property be locked and that only vehicles related to the businesses at the property be allowed to park there.

Terry Pouymari, president of the Auburndale Improvement Association, told the meeting that she often sees rental trucks not related to the property parking in the lot, which she said is never locked. Pouymari said one condition of the original variance erroneously missing from the 1999 variance was a requirement that the area in front of Pier 1 Imports along 192nd Street be landscaped, but the area is currently covered by concrete.

The board approved the new variance with two new conditions: that the variance be extended for a five-year term and that the concrete in front of Pier 1 be removed and landscaping be put in its place.

Several members of the board questioned how others could approve the variance, given the owner’s history of non-compliance.

Vice Chairwoman Christine Haider said she voted to approve because she believed the building’s use was in accordance with the terms of the variance. Chairman Jerry Iannece said the five-year term would “put them on a short leash.”

Vehicle parking was a big topic for the night. Joan Jaworski, who lives on 42nd Avenue, brought up the issue of ambulettes parking across the street from PS 130 on Francis Lewis Boulevard.

“With parking spaces so limited since rezoning, why should a business be allowed to use our streets as his parking lot?” she asked.

Community Affairs Officer Bill Conway of the 111th Precinct said the police could not ticket the ambulettes since they have city Taxi & Limousine Commission plates, but residents could make complaints to the TLC. He also responded to complaints about cars parked in front of driveways by saying that the police cannot simply drive up and down the block and issue tickets. The police can only respond, he said, if someone makes a complaint.

“A simple call to 311 or the [precinct] switchboard is all it takes,” he said.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown spoke at the meeting about reducing crime in the borough from 361 homicides in 1991 to less than 100 last year and credited cooperation between the police and prosecutors. He said he was proud of his office’s Family Justice Center, which handles 6,000 domestic violence cases each year and said the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline helped to let them know “exactly what’s going on in Queens County” 24 hours a day.

The board introduced six new members who will be sworn in by the borough president June 14 at the Hall of Science. The new member are Susan Cerezo, Ocelia Claro, Sonya Fierro-Gladwin, Chris Petallides, Teddy Teng and Robert Liatto.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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