An Arlington Circuit Court judge refused yesterday to block the county's Board of Zoning Appeals from hearing a request Monday night from the developers of the Buckingham Apartments cooperative, who want to expedite the proposed conversion of much of the complex to condominiums.

Susan Korfanty and John Shanley, two tenants of the 1,800-unit garden apartment complex off North Glebe Road, filed suit against the zoning board last week, challenging its authority to act on a variance request from the developers, the Chicago-based Stein & Co. and the Ohio-based Klingbeil Corp.

The tenants' attorney, John J. Wall, contended that the developers' request for a substantial reduction in the amount of parking required at the complex constituted a rezoning request and not a variance. As a rezoning request, he argued, the issue belongs before the Arlington County Board. He said yesterday that he would appeal the court's decision if the zoning board approves the developers' variance request.

Before the 1,422 units involved can be converted to condominiums, the complex must comply with county zoning codes, unless a variance or special use permit is granted. The 40-year-old complex has 1,366 parking spaces, but by today's standards it requires 1,615.

"The court should not preempt the BZA in carrying out its responsibilities," said Judge Thomas R. Monroe.

The tenants have said they hoped to shift the issue from the zoning board to the County Board, where they could lobby for inclusion of more units for low- and moderate-income residents.