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Carlsbad Puts Lagoon Project on Feb. Ballot

The Carlsbad City Council has voted to place a controversial retail and open-space development planned near the Agua Hedionda Lagoon on the ballot for a special election scheduled for Feb. 23, 2016.

The Nov. 17 decision came after a nonprofit group called Citizens for North County gathered enough referendum signatures to force the council to either rescind its prior approval of the 203-acre project, which includes an open-air lifestyle center proposed by developer Caruso Affiliated, or place the issue on a future ballot.

A statement from the city of Carlsbad said the cost for a special election will be between $450,000 and $500,000, to be paid from the city’s general fund. Officials also had the option of placing it on the next general election ballot on Nov. 8, 2016, which would have carried lower costs.

“We have thoroughly reviewed this plan, including extensive technical and environmental studies, and continue to believe the benefits are far greater than any other commercial development that would eventually be built on this land,” the council said in a statement included in the city release, following the decision.

“We also respect the referendum process and support voters having an opportunity to make a final decision at the first available opportunity,” the council said.

The development was proposed through an initiative by a group called Preserving Carlsbad Open Space the Right Way, which includes and is supported by Los Angeles-based Caruso Affiliated. The project calls for an open-air retail and entertainment center anchored by Nordstrom on a 26-acre portion of a 203-acre site near the Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

Most of the rest of the site, about 176 acres near Cannon Road off Interstate 5, would contain new open-space, recreation and public access amenities. Plans also call for preserving some of the land for existing strawberry fields and other agricultural uses.

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