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Change seen as ‘pro-business’

CARLSBAD — The Planning Commission approved amendments to the General Plan, Zone Code and Local Coastal Program at its May 1 meeting, in an effort to ease the process of obtaining conditional use permits for local businesses in nonresidential zones.The changes now allow a range of conditional use permit applications to be reviewed and approved by city staff, removing the requirement for subsequent approval from the Planning Commission and in some cases City Council.

Most of the commissioners expressed support for streamlining the permit process to help businesses, but expressed some concerns about certain types of businesses passing without Planning Commission consideration.

“Overarching, I support trying to get approval done sooner,” said Commissioner Jeff Segall.

But he said he thought that the Planning Commission or City Council should rule upon permits from businesses including racetracks, hotels and motels, and golf courses.

Other commissioners agreed with Segall’s notion, and eventually the Planning Commission voted on certain exceptions to the amendments. The commission determined that racetracks, hotels and motels, theaters, athletic fields, gas stations, pool halls, and public meeting halls, exhibit halls, and museums would still need Planning Commission approval, while amphitheaters and open air golf courses would need approval from City Council as well.

“I like the ordinance. I like the pro-business aspect. I like that the idea that the city planner and staff have the ability to woo businesses into the area,” said Commissioner Marty Montgomery.

The changes received strong backing from the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, as shown in a letter of support submitted to the commission by Ted Owen, the chamber’s president.

A business survey conducted last year revealed that many Carlsbad business owners wanted an easier, straightforward process for obtaining city permits.

However, no one commented on the item before the Planning Commission at the meeting.

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