OCEANSIDE — Attendees at Monday’s Planning Commission meeting were captivated and excited over a proposed indoor skydiving facility. However, a sizable group of residents said the facility is planned for the wrong site.
iFLY is proposed to be built on Vista Way near a hotel, three-story commercial building, El Camino Country Club golf course and neighboring homes. Both golf course management and neighboring homeowners said the business is not a good fit for the area.
Residents expressed concern about possible business noise and traffic, which studies found not to be issues.
Neighbors were also alarmed by the visual impact of the modern, 59-foot-tall, blue building.
“I’m sure it will be a success,” Oceanside resident Joan Gillette, said. “My grandson would like doing this. The lot is not in the right location.”
The facility would be built at the foot of a private road that leads to 63 homes. Nearby 61 more home would also be impacted. Neighbors collected 55 signatures in objection to the business.
“I have nothing against kids, education and physics,” Burt Cross said, speaking for El Camino Villas Homeowner Association. “It’s in the gateway to our residential communities. It’s a great facility, but not for this location.”
The Planning Commission unanimously approved the project with recommendations that perimeter trees be planted, and the exterior color be toned down to soften the impact of the building.
“The color of the building is really a deal breaker,” Commissioner Curtis Busk said. “It’s not in conformance with architecture of the area.”
Owner Robert Blomsness, a Navy veteran, said he wants to be a good neighbor, and is happy to comply with a softer building color and planting more trees.
Blomsness said the iFLY franchise would be built with the latest technology, and is designed to be close to a residential area.
Inside the 5,000-square-foot building, fans in two wind-tunnels circulate air to a high velocity. This creates a cushion of air in which the force of gravity equals the force of drag and people can fly.
The facility would provide fun adventure for families, science learning for kids and freefall training for military.
“It’s totally designed for tourism,” Blomsness said. “Families with kids can all fly at once. Everybody walks out with a smile.”
There are presently 50 iFLY facilities in the world, and 35 in the United States, with the closest one located in San Diego.
Homeowners who objected to the business said they would appeal the commission’s decision, which would call for the City Council to review the project before it moves forward.
If approved the facility could break ground in six weeks and be open by the end of the year. It’s anticipated the business would make $5 million annually.