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Uncounted ballots will determine fate of Carlsbad lagoon project

CARLSBAD, Calif. — A ballot measure that would allow an upscale retail and dining center to be built along the shore of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad trailed by 186 votes early Wednesday, but approximately 7,100 mail and provisional ballots remained to be counted.

With all 60 precincts counted, the vote on Measure A was 50.28 percent against and 49.72 percent for, with the no side receiving 16,727 votes and the yes side 16,541, according to unofficial results released by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

The development planned by Los Angeles-based Caruso Affiliated has drawn opposition from environmental groups and mall owner Westfield, until recently the owner of a shopping center near Carlsbad’s northern city limits.

Caruso planned to build on 15 percent of the 203-acre property and leave the rest as open space. A popular family-owned U-pick strawberry farm alongside Interstate 5 would be allowed to remain in operation.

The plans were approved last year by the Carlsbad City Council, but opponents — concerned about the size of the proposed buildings and worsening traffic congestion — collected enough petition signatures to force it to a public vote.