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The Carlsbad Planning Commission approves an agreement between the city, stakeholders and Lennar Homes to build a park at the Buena Vista Reservoir (pictured), add habitat to Veterans Park, connect Poinsettia Lane and allow Lennar Homes to construct 123 homes. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Poinsettia 61 project passes through Planning Commission

CARLSBAD — Marathons are popular in the city this time of year.

After the actual race and a four-hour city council discussion on Uptown Bressi last month, the Planning Commission engaged in its own marathon session and approved the Poinsettia 61 proposal Wednesday.

The plan, if OK’d by the City Council and California Coastal Commission, will allow Lennar Homes to construct 123 condos, finish the Poinsettia Lane connection, add a 3.1-acre park at the Buena Vista Reservoir and add dozens of acres of open space to the city’s Habitat Management Plan at Veterans Park and off of Poinsettia Lane.

The proposal was the result of a lawsuit filed by North County Advocates in 2015 over the General Plan, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the Climate Action Plan.

The city, along with Lennar Homes, Friends of Aviara, Friends of the Buena Vista Reservoir, Preserve Calavera and the NCA came together to resolve their issues and conducted a public forum last week to introduce the plan.

“I think it’s a fantastic project,” said Commissioner Kerry Siekmann. “Completing Poinsettia Lane is huge for connectivity.”

Despite the unanimous vote, the commission also extended two recommendations to the City Council, and by extension city staff, in the form of traffic safety mitigation.

Commissioner Marty Montgomery said calming measures should be included in plans going forward, although the commission did not direct Lennar Homes to adjust its plans.

However, the timeline for the project is estimated between two to three years, according to David Stearn, vice president of acquisition for Lennar Homes.

He said most, if not all, of 2017 will be spent in the entitlement process with the city and coastal commission. He said the company doesn’t expect to break ground until 2018.

In addition, Stearn said the project would be done in phases, including building a 275-foot bridge about 30 feet high, which will act as a wildlife corridor.

Commissioner Hap L’Heureux, though, did voice concern if the project passes with no specific requests or demands to include the measures, residents would have no recourse.

Stearn and Andrew Han, also of Lennar Homes, stressed the homebuilder would accommodate the residents and install safety measures. The condos, meanwhile, can be constructed before the completion of the bridge, which led to L’Heureux’s concerns.

“Once the street goes through, it will change traffic patterns,” he added.

Numerous residents of the Viadana neighborhood and homeowners off Skimmer and Oriole courts pressed the council and even objected to the passage of the project over those issues.

Brett Poratah, a board member of the Viadana homeowner’s association, and Carl Krumrei, a resident, both voiced concerns with high-speed traffic and a lack of planning and acknowledgement from the city or the developer over the past year, until two days before the commission meeting, regarding their concerns.

Poratah asked for a delay in approval until those needs were met, while Krumrei railed against the environmental impact report was incomplete.

Krumrei also did some quick math to refute the city’s assertion of between 98 to about 120 extra car trips per day. Krumrei said if the expected 3,200 added trips per year divided by 24 hours, it equals 133.3 extra cars per day.

“Don’t build a road and wait to find out what it means,” he added.

Laura Brown, who lives on Oriole Court on the east side of the project, said a traffic light or roundabout must be installed at the Oriole and Skimmer courts intersection to slow traffic.

“There was no consideration for the intersection at Skimmer and Oriole,” she said.

As for the habitat off Poinsettia Lane, coyote rollers and bat sanctuaries will be included. The developer will also pay for construction of the bridge and park.

As for the park and habitat, part of Lennar’s proposal was to re-designate 3.1 acres of park space to habitat at Veterans Park. To mitigate, the city and stakeholders requested Lennar take up the 3.1 acres at the reservoir.

The city, however, had been attempting to sell the land, which ranged between $3.2 million and $5.9 million, but suspended those efforts to get this plan approved.