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Lund Fire Products requests variance from city

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A Bayside company dogged by a contentious relationship with its mostly residential neighbors and a history of violating its variance made its case before the city Board of Standards and Appeals last week as to why it should be allowed to extend its office hours.

In non-binding, recommendatory votes the application of Lund Fire Products to increase its office hours was unanimously denied at a May Community Board 11 meeting and was recently rejected by Borough President Claire Shulman. But the BSA decision due July 17 will be final.

Residents have charged Lund Fire Products with repeatedly violating the terms of its variance by being open until after 5 p.m. during the week and by using the residential 215th Street to back up, unload and turn around delivery trucks. Lund Fire Products is on a 40th Avenue property that stretches from 215th Place to 216th Street.

The architect representing the company, Philip Augusta of Fresh Meadows, was awaiting the BSA decision.

“I do not have any idea which way they’re going to go,” he said. “I feel it’s unfortunate that the community doesn’t want to give Lund a chance to correct themselves, which they have over the last six months.”

At a crowded May 7 meeting at which both residents living near the company and employees pleaded with the board to see their side of the situation, CB 11 in Bayside voted overwhelmingly to deny the variance request by Lund Fire Products to extend its office hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on those days.

Lund Fire Products operates on a property that was first a laundry in the 1930s. Since then the area has become mostly residential, although Lund was permitted to continue in the area based on conditions such as operating hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekdays.

Augusta, who admits the company had a history of violating its variance, said if the BSA approved the company’s application to extend its office hours, it would make a request to use a now vacant adjacent property as a parking and loading area, thereby taking traffic off 215th Street.

Representatives of the company said after the Community Board 11 meeting that the business, which employs about 80 to 100 people, may be forced to relocate from Bayside if it could not extend its office hours.

But civic leader Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, urged the Board of Standards and Appeals to deny the Lund request.

“Let Lund go out of town,” he said. “There are plenty of placed they could go.”

Republican city council candidate Dennis Saffran, a Douglaston resident who is running for Mike Abel’s (R-Bayside) seat, also spoke out against Lund at the BSA hearing.

“Someone needs to stand up for the rights of our homeowners,” said Saffran, a community interest lawyer. “It’s just wrong to give a company like Lund more privileges when it has abused the ones it has already been given.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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