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A San Carlos Honda dealership and service center displaced by one of many life science developments coming to the city has found a new home on Industrial Road, seeking to upgrade an existing underused building while beautifying the surrounding area.

“This is an underutilized, very tired-looking property and I’m just pleased the Honda dealership is going to revitalize this in so many ways,” Planning Commissioner Ellen Garvey said during a Tuesday night meeting.

Planning commissioners offered unanimous support for the proposed dealership project, granting the developer a Conditional Use Permit and applauding the design. Kent Putnam, with Putnam Automotive Group, plans to renovate the building at 495 Bragato Road by painting the facade of the 23,600-square-foot structure in accordance with Honda branding and planting 34 trees.

Two sheds will also be demolished and paved over as part of remediation efforts, a process for removing soil toxins built up over decades of industrial uses. The site was previously home to a manufacturer of batteries and other equipment, Principal Planner Lisa Costa Sanders said.

Andrey Kamenetsky, group operations manager at Putnam Automotive Group, said the plan also avoids dredging up additional toxins by incorporating landscape in planters rather than digging into the soil.

“We love our trees in San Carlos and I’m really glad you’ve gone all-in on the tree plan despite the challenges on the site,” Chair David Roof said.

Commissioners offered the plan high praise, noting the improvements are much needed and will provide employees and customers a nice area to walk given that the dealership is close to two Caltrain stations. Garvey called the scenic improvements a “real plus” to the dealership.

Kamenetsky said the company is also looking into changing the address on the new site to have the front of the building facing Industrial Road. The current Honda dealership sits less than a mile away from the new site on Industrial Road and will be redeveloped into a four-story life science building by 777 Industrial Owner LLC.

Commissioners approved that application in June, offering the developer similar praise for transforming an underused structure into something more appealing to look at. The project is one of 10 major proposals contributing to an overhaul of business and community life in East Side San Carlos.

“It’s great to see creative and attractive repurposing of an asset and it will add some energy to that part of San Carlos,” Commissioner Jim Iacoponi said Monday night.

In other business, the commission also backed a measure that would require applicants seeking approval for construction projects from the Residential Design Review Committee to notify neighbors within a 300-foot radius.

Councilmembers recently directed staff to draft the measure after learning that some applicants were only required to send mailing notifications to those within 150 feet of the proposed site. If finally approved by the council, the measure would bring residential development notifications needing RDRC approval in conformance with projects that come before the Planning Commission.

Responding to commissioner concerns, Costa Sanders said the additional notification expectations would not add substantial work to existing staff workloads.

“I don’t want to overload them,” Commissioner Don Bradley said. “But I think this is a step in the right direction.”

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