Inland Empire’s Largest Mixer set for Wednesday

For the seventh consecutive year, Inland Empire’s Largest Mixer returns Wednesday, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., bringing together hundreds of local business people and more than 20 local chambers of commerce at the Ontario Convention Center Center, 2000 E. Convention Center Way,
Ontario, CA 91764.

Businesses interested in purchasing exhibitor space or tickets should call 909-560-2800 or visit www.iemixer.com.

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Ontario approves amendments for grocery, variety stores in downtown

City officials have now cleared the way for the future development of grocery and a variety of stores in its historic downtown and civic center.

The city council agreed to amend its development code to permit variety stores within the C1 and shopping center zoning designation and to allow grocery stores within the Euclid Avenue Overlay.

With its core downtown designated a historic landmark, city officials years ago adopted an overlay in the area which would protect the avenue as one of the city’s scenic resources.

Councilwoman Debra Dorst-Porada, who has in recent years championed the rebirth of the downtown, wanted to require a Conditional Use Permit, also known as CUP’s, for all grocery stores in the areas addressed.

“I’m very concerned about the Euclid Avenue development,” said councilwoman Dorst-Porada said.

But Planning director Jerry Blum assured the councilwoman that the amendments are designed to promote more businesses and bring in more revenues to the city.

The Planning Commission previously discussed the changes at two separate meetings. It was then that the commission raised their concerns with smaller variety stores.

“In their opinion, the smaller ones were less good operators than the larger ones and therefore instead of staff recommendation to allow all variety of stores, they elected to restrict the variety to a Conditional Use Permit if it was less than 10,000 square feet and permitted with 10,000 and over. They had no problem with grocery stores,” Blum said.

When it comes to grocery stores, they are already covered by existing code, Councilman Alan Wapner said.

“If we’re blessed enough to have a Traders Joe’s or one of those to come to the downtown then it’s just another hoop they are going to have to jump through,” he said. “Frankly, I don’t want to chance losing a quality store like that by having them to pay for CUP and wait the cup process.”

The amendments will have a bearing on future developments in the downtown including one project approved in 2011. At that time the council approved the development of a four-story apartment building which would encompass an entire block bordered by Euclid and Lemon avenues and C and D streets. The project will have 156 apartments.

The ground floor will have 33,000 square feet of retail space, which will be located along Euclid and wrap around to C Street.

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Group to appeal lawsuit over Nativity scenes

If you recall, last month I wrote a story about the issue going on in Santa Monica over the Nativity scenes and the possible implications it may have on the creches on the Euclid Avenue median in Ontario.

Late last year, a group was banned from publicly displaying the scenes in a Santa Monica park.

A lawsuit from the Santa Monica Scenes Committee seeking to restore the 59-year- old tradition of displaying the scenes at Palisades Park was dismissed last year.
On Wednesday, attorneys for the group announced they would be appealing the federal court’s decision to dismiss the case.

“A city can certainly have a policy that disallows private, unattended displays in a public park, but it cannot ban them on the basis of an unconstitutional rationale,” said William J. Becker Jr., a First Amendment attorney and lead counsel for the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee.

In Ontario, volunteers associated with the local Nativity scenes have said they will be watching this case closely.

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