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Thursday, 20 September 2012 18:16

Environmental Study Favorable for Poway Body Shop

City council members in Poway, CA, have agreed with a study that operations at a body shop will not significantly affect the environment.

Council members voted 5-0 to approve a negative declaration following a review of a 153-page report prepared for the city on operations at Chrome Collision, 13175 Gregg St.
At the August meeting, council members reviewed the findings of contractor Helix Environmental Planning Inc.

The company stated in an environmental study that while Chrome Collision’s operation will have an impact, none of the effects are significant enough to require further study. Council members agreed.

“The science is there,” said Councilman Jim Cunningham. “It takes two findings of substantially significant impact to mandate an environmental impact report, and there’s not even one.”

The shop opened in May. A year earlier, the council had approved a conditional use permit and a notice of environmental exemption, allowing it to set up shop within an old industrial building. City staff members determined at the time the business would be exempt from any environmental studies. The city had taken the position the auto body shop was similar to the building’s previous use as a collection point for repossessed personal watercraft and motorcycles. As such, the city claimed, the new use would be exempt from environmental reviews.

Those approvals were not without controversy as the owners of competing shops in town alleged that the large Chrome operation should not be allowed in the business park and that its presence would harm their own businesses. A competitor made an allegation that the 12-bay, 32,000 square-foot shop was violating terms of its use permit by doing some work outside of the building.

Eventually, the opponent took the issue to court. A Superior Court judge ruled in April that the city erred in concluding that the business was exempt from environmental review and ordered it to conduct a study in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

Areas addressed in the environmental study included air quality, hazardous materials, water quality, traffic and parking. None of these areas raised any environmental flags, said Bob Manis, Poway’s director of development services.

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