Poway residents seeking more information about the Life Time fitness center proposed at The Farm residential development will hear the latest updates at a meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
At two Poway City Council meetings, one on March 7 and another May 2, more than a dozen speakers criticized what they said were broken promises when Life Time proposed a 30,500-square-foot fitness center. What voters approved in 2020, they said, was a proposal for a 2,953-square-foot fitness center plus a patio, recreational courts and a swimming pool at The Farm.
Another 20 Poway residents wrote to the City Council expressing their disapproval of the project, Mayor Steve Vaus noted at the May 2 meeting.
Plans for the proposed fitness center shared at the March 7 council meeting by Christopher Campbell, development manager for Life Time, call for a cafe and bistro, a center offering equipment for cardio and strength training, and studios offering classes for all ages. The center would also feature outdoor activities, including swimming areas and a space for six pickleball courts or three tennis courts.
The Nov. 1 meeting, being hosted by Life Time, will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Poway City Hall council chambers.
Life Time is holding the meeting, and possibly more than one, to share detailed information about their plan and to address questions from residents with both local and corporate Life Time leaders, said Natalie Bushaw, Life Time vice president of public relations and corporate communications, in an email.
“The format of the meetings will be designed to make it as easy as possible for residents to get information and to get their questions answered by our team,” Bushaw said.
Poway city staff are also expected to attend and be available to answer questions about the development process that Life Time would follow if the project is approved, said Rene Carmichael, community outreach coordinator for the city.
The Life Time project is tentatively scheduled to go before the Poway City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 5, said Poway Assistant City Manager Wendy Kaserman. The council will consider three separate items: a conditional use permit; the design review and a specific plan amendment.
Staff has determined that, as proposed, the fitness center is not a minor modification according to the The Farm Specific Plan, the planning document for the overall project. If the proposed specific plan amendment is approved by the council, it would require a citywide vote by residents, Kaserman said in an email.
Placing the project on the Nov. 5, 2024 General Election ballot would be part of council’s actions at the time the project is considered, she said.
At the Oct. 3 Poway council meeting, resident Eric Weller asked council members if they could facilitate a neighborhood meeting with the developers of the proposed fitness center. Weller said he would like the developers to present the current proposal and answer questions from the public about the project.
“A new neighborhood meeting would give the developer and city a chance to clarify any misperceptions or other misinformation that has been posted on social media, and it would give the public access to accurate information that is related to the Life Time proposal,” several community residents wrote in an Oct. 1 letter to Vaus, Poway City Council members, City Manager Chris Hazeltine and staff members Bob Manis and Hector Salgado.
The letter, signed by Weller, along with Nick Carruthers, Chris Cruse, Lori Grennan, Jana Johnson and Torrey Powers, also asks the city to release copies of the proposed The Farm Specific Plan, conditional use permits and other related documents.
“We would like to see any proposed changes to The Farm Specific Plan also discussed in an open question/answer session along the same lines,” the letter said.
Bushaw said Life Time’s “hope and plan along the way” has been to help the community understand the fitness center project, who Life Time is, and what the company aims to bring with the proposed club.
“That said, certainly we recognize that community interest in our project has grown since our first community meeting in early 2023 and we look forward to the opportunity to reach a broader audience,” she wrote in an email, in response to a question whether the Nov. 1 meeting was scheduled due to Weller’s request.
“While additional community meetings don’t happen often, they always prove helpful in dialogue and discussion as the project progresses.”
The Farm development under construction on 117 acres, will feature 160 homes built separately by Lennar Corp. and other amenities off Espola Road between Valley Verde Road and Cloudcroft Drive. Along with trails, a large butterfly farm with an education center, community gardens, and a dog park, meadow and amphitheater are planned, said The Farm Managing Partner Kevin McNamara.
McNamara estimates The Farm is roughly two-thirds completed and construction should be finalized by fall 2024 or earlier.