CARLSBAD — Despite objection from the community, City Council members unanimously approved construction of a proposed Lowe’s home improvement store within Carlsbad’s city limits at their Aug. 24 meeting.
The proposed project, called Palomar Commons, is slated for the southwest corner of Palomar Airport Road and El Camino Real. In addition to the Lowe’s – the first in Carlsbad – the facility will also house a gas station, a bank and other retail shop facilities.
Although the site is located at one of the city’s busiest intersections, Sudberry Development Inc. has included traffic monitoring cameras and additional lanes to alleviate traffic near the site in the project proposal.
An amendment to the General Plan’s land designations was also approved in conjunction with the Palomar Commons project. The new designation, General Commercial, allows for consideration of new projects that do not meet existing land use requirements.
Council’s approval of the project came after nearly two hours of public comment from those who oppose and support construction of Palomar Commons at the site of the former Olympic Resort and Spa, which closed in 2008.
Supporters cited a number of reasons why they were happy to welcome a Lowe’s store into their community. Whether devoted HGTV followers or masters of the “Honey Do” list, many were excited to shorten their trek when tackling projects around the house.
Mayoral candidate Walt Meier noted that he looks forward to the additional revenue the project will bring to the community. Neighboring animal shelter director Laurie Joniaux said they are “very excited about the project,” which includes several improvements to their facility as well.
Those who opposed the project gave reasons that spanned a wide range, from environmental issues to concerns about the General Plan amendment. Concerns about increased traffic, pollution and noise were also heard during public comment.
Members of the Friends of Aviara and the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation spoke to how important the area is to local and migrating wildlife.
Others fear what will happen now that new language allowing for “General Commercial” facilities has been amended into the General Plan. Several residents worry that despite a lengthy approval process, allowing one large chain store will encourage other developers to consider setting up shop in Carlsbad.
“The actual process that is required to change an existing property to General Commercial will be extensive enough to prevent unwanted development,” council candidate Jon Wantz said in support of the council’s decision. “In an age where we have consistently declining revenue streams, we must take action.”