CarMax Appeals City of Norco’s Decision to Deny Zoning Change

By Izabella Salinas

Norco- The City Council for the City of Norco has issued a notice of a public hearing to revisit a previously denied project proposal.

On Nov. 28, 2018, CarMax auto retail’s request to build a CarMax location on property located on the southwest corner of Second St. and Valley View Ave was denied. This property is currently classified as an “A-1 Zone Agricultural Low Density.”

This zone type “is intended to provide and encourage the development of agriculturally oriented low-density living areas designed to take advantage of the rural environment,” according to the Norco Municipal Code.

The property is vacant but in order for it to be used by CarMax, there must first be a zone change from “A-1 Zone Agricultural Low Density” to “Specific Plan.” City Council members, as well as many residents of the nearby neighborhood, voiced their concerns about the added traffic that the commercial building would bring.

Resident Theo Zoetemelk spoke in opposition of the project. He lives down the street from the project, noting that traffic is already difficult without the added flow of commercial traffic, according to the notes from the November hearing.

“The Commission hears about traffic issues all the time, no matter what project is being presented; having CarMax or any other business will not fix or worsen this issue,” said Vice Chair Jaffarian.

CarMax representative, Mark Ostoich, argued that the company would benefit the City as it anticipates employing 20-25 people from the local region and generating $40 to $60 million annually.

On Jan. 3, 2019, the City Council posted a notice of a public hearing to address CarMax’s appeal of the Planning Commission’s denial of the proposed zone change.

The notice of a public hearing stated that City staff has determined that the project will not create significant negative impacts pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the City of Norco Environmental Guidelines.

“The hearing is for the Council to hear the claims and decide whether to uphold the decision or not,” said the City Clerk.

The hearing will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers located at 2820 Clark Avenue.