OCEANSIDE — Planning commissioners agreed to allow ChemStation Pacific, a business specializing in biodegradable detergents and sanitizers, to operate near the Peacock neighborhood, but some residents are concerned about adverse health and environmental impacts related to the company’s use and storage of chemicals.
Commissioners unanimously approved a conditional use permit to ChemStation Pacific to allow the potential storage of 19,780 gallons of corrosive liquids and 1,100 gallons of oxidizing materials at an existing 26,641 square foot industrial building at 4630 North Ave. The building is contained with a light industrial zoning area with a residential area located just south of the building buffered by North Avenue.
ChemStation is a nationwide company with a locally owned and operated San Diego location. The company specializes in providing concentrated detergents and sanitizers to many food and beverage businesses like local breweries Belching Beaver and Black Plague.
According to Dario Paduano, founder and general manager of ChemStation Pacific, he wants to move the business closer to home where he lives in North County.
ChemStation products are water-based, biodegradable and safe for use around food. The products are approved for use by the USDA and FDA for food and manufacturing facilities.
“We are an essential and critical component of the food supply chain,” Paduano told the Planning Commission during its public hearing on March 14.
ChemStation does not produce hazardous waste and will not be using hazardous materials on site. No explosive or toxic materials or hazardous gasses will be on-site either.
The business will have both indoor and outdoor storage of materials. About 1,700 gallons of materials stored outside are considered flammable, but Paduano noted that that’s a small amount compared to the often 7,500 to 15,000 gallons of similar flammable materials stored in department stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s.
According to city staff, ChemStation’s plan has been reviewed by both the fire department, a third-party consulting specialist firm, the city’s watershed protection program as well as other environmental and state agencies.
As required, ChemStation’s building will have a high-hazard occupancy room to store its chemicals with a spill control system, emergency standby power, alarms, supervision and monitoring, a fully enclosed system that prevents any vapors from escaping into the atmosphere, and non-combustible, liquid-tight floors. The business is also required to store its corrosives and oxidizers separately.
Paduano also emphasized the environmentally sustainable mission behind his company, which practices a “refill not landfill” approach by offering refilling services of chemicals in containers. This saves more plastic from ending up in landfills and also prevents the company from having to dispose of remaining traces of chemicals from containers before disposal.
“I consider my company an environmental company,” Paduano said. “We’re good stewards of the environment.”
The property is also bordered by landscaping and will have a screening fence installed to prevent the outdoor storage from being seen from the street.
Still, the Planning Commission only received six letters of support for the project compared to the 34 letters opposed.
Though resident Cecily Jenkins believes Paduano has good intentions, her main problem with the business is its close location to the residential area. The closest residence to the building is 300 feet away.
Jenkins noted that the building previously had a 120-gallon limit for chemicals stored there. She also noted that the company would be better suited in a heavier industrial area rather than the proposed light industrial area. Paduano purchased the building in 2021.
“The request now for storage up to 20,000 gallons seems excessive,” Jenkins said.
City staff explained that the conditional use permit would be required for this type of use even in a heavier industrial zoning area.
Despite residents’ concerns, the conditional use permit was approved based on its thorough review of meeting all the required fire and business codes.
“It checks all the boxes,” said Commission Chair Tom Rosales. “That’s what we’re looking for.”
Vice-Chair Tom Morrissey added that he believes the company will be good for the community as well as Oceanside’s economy as a whole.
“I think the neighbors are going to have a good partner,” Morrissey said.