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La Costa Town Square wins approval

CARLSBAD — Dozens of residents from La Costa gathered at City Hall on July 15 in an effort to stop the Planning Commission from approving a new development they said will bring even more noise and traffic congestion to their rapidly growing community.
After addressing several questions received prior to the meeting, staff recommended the commission certify the Environmental Impact Report for the proposed La Costa Town Square, a project to be located on an 83-acre parcel of land on the corner of Rancho Santa Fe Road and La Costa Avenue.
After the item was continued from a previous meeting, the Planning Commission did vote to certify the EIR with the recommendation the developer make the project “solar ready.”
The project will now move on to City Council for final approval.
The planned development, in the works for several years, calls for a 284,400-square-foot community shopping center, a 55,000-square-foot-office project, 64 single-family homes and a multi-use residential project.
The proposed project would consist of “high end” commercial development, with a public plaza, much like that of Del Mar Plaza, said Van Lynch, senior planner with the city of Carlsbad.
A commercial project for the area has been in the La Costa Master Plan since 1972, he said. Aspen Properties put an application in with the city in 2001, but has been slow to develop the property.
Although concerned residents showed up wearing bright green tags which read, “No LCTS: No more traffic, No big box stores,” they were not allowed to address the commission, as the item was continued from the previous meeting when public comment was taken and then closed. Hearing new public comment would have required going back over previously covered information.
Commissioners told those who wished to speak, they could address the council in the future.
One resident said he had concerns about the project and the logic of allowing more development to be built during a “Stage 2 Alert,” when water restrictions have been given by the city.
Lynch addressed questions previously submitted, regarding traffic congestion, lights from the parking lot and the nearby residential neighborhoods, as well as the noise and dirt from the construction. Some additional blasting will be needed to move the large amounts of hard clay soil needed to level the lot, he said, but not like the previous blasting during the expansion of Rancho Santa Fe Road.
Just a few years ago, an aquifer broke in the area, flooding nearby homes to the point of complete loss, he said, and residents fear that the digging and blasting needed for this development could produce a similar problem.
La Costa has a history of rock fracturing and water coming out of the ground, he said. However, Lynch said the aquifer in question has been drained and that the issue should be resolved.
“This is an item that will go before the City Council,” he said. “This is not the end-all for this particular project.”