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City OKs Homes but Not Stores at Marblehead

August 07, 1998|LINN GROVES

While major elements of the controversial Marblehead Coastal development were approved by the City Council this week, plans for several large stores again were rejected.

City Atty. Jeffrey M. Oderman said Thursday that the developers, the Lusk Co., must now come back with a new plan for the commercial part of the project.

After three hours of debate and impassioned public testimony, the council Wednesday approved plans for 434 single-family homes, a 14-acre canyon preserve, a movie theater and an outlet center. But plans for Target and Albertsons stores and a Long's drugstore were voted down.

Despite the council's opposition to the large stores and a provision against "discount stores" in the specific plan, the developer has consistently argued for them.

So have others who will be players in the fierce competition between the Marblehead center and the nearby Plaza Pacifica stores.

"We have found that the Target store can be supported by the area, even with two shopping centers in the area," a representative from Target told the council.

But James R. Costano, a representative of Plaza Pacifica, which is two miles away, disagreed.

"It's silly to think a city of 50,000 can support the Target and our Wal-Mart plan, and that people will drive down that far to shop here," Costano said.

The commercial portion of the plan had already been sent back to the Planning Commission on June 24. The commission rejected the council's idea for more homes on the site.

Then, on July 15, the council sent the issue back to the developer for the same reason.

Over the past several months, hundreds of residents have attended 25 community workshops and four public hearings on the plan.

Diana Christinson, a member of San Clemente Citizens for Responsible Development, said the group continues to "strongly reject this plan. We hold this area to a higher standard."

But Councilman Steve Apodaca said San Clemente "has missed opportunities, and I don't want it to miss this one."

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