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Retired landscape architect and Carlsbad resident Walt Meier showed up at the city council meeting on July 27 to discuss the lack of landscaping around large retail buildings in the city.

He asked the council to consider adopting an addendum to the municipal building code. The proposed addendum reads: “All retail buildings of 60,000 square feet or more must incorporate one percent of the total square footage of the building in landscaping adjacent to the front fascia of the building. Landscaping must include branching trees that are large enough to break up and soften the edifice.”

Meier explained that large “big box” retail stores are “stark looking” when you approach them, with pavement adjacent to the building and no landscaping. He cited the Home Depot on College Boulevard as an example.

“I think that our City needs to set standards for small-town ambience,” said Meier. “We need to set codes to our standards of excellence.”

Meier said that he looked at the plans for the Lowe’s that will be built at the site of the old Olympic Resort, on the corner of Palomar Airport Road and El Camino Real, and saw a rendering of the building with landscaping, and the presentation looked very good. However, he is concerned that it will be built with little landscaping, like the Lowe’s in neighboring Oceanside at Old Grove Road and SR76 — a building that will likely be a replica of the Carlsbad location.

“Lowe’s will be coming in here like a runaway freight train,” said Meier. “We need to be prepared. We need to have a set of standards for them when they come in — and say you need to put some landscaping in front of the building.”

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