An Elmhurst dairy operator’s efforts to acquire additional truck parking space boomeranged yesterday when it was discovered that existing parking space it has been using for several years may be illegal.

Although the dairy has encountered strong opposition from residents nearby for parking its trucks in the existing parking lots, community representatives gave no indications that they will seek to block the operator from continuing to use them.

The unexpected turn of events occurred as Frank J. Duval, an attorney for Silver Crest Farms of 80-22 Caldwell Avenue, sought a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals to utilize two vacant lots in a residentially zoned district for additional truck parking.

The vacant properties are mid-block along Caldwell Avenue between 81st and 82nd Streets. The dairy’s existing parking facilities are situated on either side of the plots, which are the subject of the variance request.

While Duval was presenting his case for the variance, board member Philip Agusta asked to see the certificates of occupancy issued for the existing lots by the Buildings Departments.

After scanning the documents, Agusta, wearing a slightly bemused look, noted that the certificates did not permit parking for commercial vehicles. “it seems to me that you are illegally occupying these lots because they do not specify commercial vehicle storage,” Agusta stated.

Duval, somewhat embarrassed, then offered to meet with community representatives to try to straighten out the situation.

Earlier in the hearing Councilman Arthur Katzman (D) Forest Hills, who represents the area, and several residents blasted the dairy’s operations as noisy, dirty and a general nuisance and asked for rejection of the variance request.

Katzman said that the dairy, which also operated a retail store at Caldwell Avenue and 80 Street, “has been a thorn in the side of the community for fifteen years.” Nearby residents, he added, “have practically been driven out of their homes because of the noise from these unsightly trucks.”

Alluding to Duval’s offer to screen the homes adjoining the parking lots with high hedges and to limit night operations, Katzman declared, “to talk now of cooperating with the community after ignoring it for so many years is a mockery.”

Responding to Duval’s argument that the dairy wanted to establish additional parking spaces on the two vacant lots because it was losing money by keeping them vacant, JoAnn Benini, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, stated that the dairy brought the hardship on itself because it had demolished two two-family homes that occupied the site when the dairy acquired it.
Another resident, Beverly Werner, testified that the noise was so great from the refrigerated trucks recharging their batteries at night that she and her neighbors often took it upon themselves to remove the ignition keys from them to stop the din.

The matter was adjourned to October 19.