From the Times Ledger:
A city agency rarely disciplines Queens businesses that renege on promises made to the community in exchange for obtaining a zoning variance, according to civic leaders.
When a business wants to operate outside city zoning laws, the owners must apply for what is known as a variance, and often those variances come with legal conditions set by the community.
In Auburndale, for example, a car company wanted to use a lot for employee parking, so the neighborhood requested no commerce be conducted. Similar requests by Auburndale businesses were put into law by the city Board of Standards and Appeals, but a civic association has been trying to get property owners to stick to their word with mixed results.
Technically, the BSA has internal rules in place to deal with businesses who do not conform to the conditions of their variance.
“The board may, at its discretion, and upon due notice of the hearing, revoke or modify variances ... when it finds that the terms or conditions of such grants have been violated,” the board’s own regulations state.
Yet this practice rarely happens. Civic leaders in the area cannot recall the board ever revoking a variance.
Instead, the burden of enforcing the conditions of the variances falls on the city Department of Buildings and local community organizations, according to Gene Kelty, chairman of Community Board 7, which he said constantly deals with problems relating to variances through limited tools.