A plan to redevelop a gas station property along Interstate 5 in north Encinitas received the City Council’s approval Wednesday, Feb. 13, despite stiff opposition.
The council voted 5-0 to reject a citizen’s appeal of the city Planning Commission’s endorsement in December of the project. The site is located in the city’s Leucadia district on the south side of Leucadia Boulevard between I-5 and Orpheus Avenue.
As proposed, the development would revamp a property occupied for decades by a Shell station and convenience store, and more recently with a Chevron brand. In addition to the gas pumps, the new proposal calls for the construction of a small market and fast-food restaurant.
Leucadia resident Alex Mrazek filed an appeal to the council on the commission’s decision. In Wednesday’s hearing, he argued the project rehashed a proposal rejected by the Planning Commission about three years ago that included a car wash instead of a restaurant.
In introducing his argument to the council Wednesday, Mrazek presented a slide comparing the development proposal to the comedy movie sequel, “The Hangover, Part II.”
The analogy was based on his contention that the project would repeat alleged errors city officials had made early in this decade when they permitted a small strip mall anchored by a Starbucks to be installed on the north side of Leucadia Boulevard across from the gas station.
He and other residents contended the earlier project created ongoing congestion and safety hazards.
“Nobody likes a bad sequel, and that’s what we’re talking about here at this intersection,” Mrazek said.
He said the new proposal would compound traffic snarls, dodge density limits and parking requirements, and eventually be permitted for alcoholic beverage sales, bringing crime into the neighborhood.
Eleven residents appeared before the council, urging it to support the appeal, while echoing Mrazek’s complaints. No residents spoke in opposition to the appeal.
Representing the project applicant, attorney Marco Gonzalez emphasized the city’s staff as well as planning commissioners had determined the project was in compliance with municipal regulations.
Moreover, he said, the plan does not include alcohol sales. In its approval, the commission required a city review of any future application for alcohol sales to state Alcoholic Beverage Control.
After listening to about an hour and a half of testimony, council members agreed with the commissioners’ determination that the project complies with city requirements and would result in an improvement to the property.