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Doug CVS to fix problems after pressured by Avella

The CVS at Northern Boulevard and Douglaston Parkway has promised to address noise and pollution concerns after City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) got the city to agree to reconsider the store's 1996 variance, he said last week.

The Douglaston pharmacy has promised to keep its parking lot locked after hours, enclose its garbage dumpsters and stop pickups and deliveries at certain hours, he said.

The concessions were won about three weeks ago after Avella brought longstanding complaints from neighbors about noise and pollution before the Board of Standards and Appeals, which grants variances for buildings that do not follow zoning regulations, he said.

"I don't think they've ever followed through on the restrictions that were put through on the variance," Avella said. "It shouldn't have taken them this long to comply."

The councilman said a hearing on the reopened variance was scheduled for May 6, but the store had come into compliance by then, enclosing its garbage in a roofed structure, locking its parking gate and prohibiting pickups and deliveries before 7 a.m. and after 9 p.m.

"We're going to abide by all the regulations, anything we could do for the community," said Carmelo DiBenedetto, the store's manager.

DiBenedetto said he had tried to lock the parking lot gate on numerous occasions, but break-ins happened frequently until he brought in welders.

"They kept on breaking the gate on me," DiBenedetto said. "The next day I would come in and the gate would be hanging."

Although technically across the street from his district boundary, Avella said he took up the case because local residents had asked for his help. He said the store will fall within his district once the lines are changed Jan. 1.

"I'm glad to see that CVS is cooperating to address these issues," said Eliott Socci, president of the Douglaston Civic Association. "They are making a nice profit coming out of this community, and they should be responsive to being a good neighbor within this community."

Socci said the pharmacy had been "the source of some nagging problems" in the parking lot.

"I had intended to write a letter to CVS and the owner about their poor performance on snow removal," Socci said. "I will get on that and try to extract the same spirit of cooperation for improved snow removal next year."

Avella made it clear he would not shy away from bringing any future violations by the store to the BSA's attention.

"If this happens again and they fail to continue to meet the stipulations, that's it."

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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