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SAN DIEGO-The San Diego City Council has given final approval to a lease extension and master plan for SeaWorld’s 172-acre site on Mission Bay, apparently ending years of wrangling over the project.

SeaWorld only needs a routine approval from the California Coastal Commission before it can begin improvements. Plans call for a lighthouse structure at the front gate and a 95-foot-tall “Splashdown” roller coaster ride.

The city is also requiring the water park to build $4 million in pedestrian, bicycle and road improvement around the bay–and another $10.6 million over five years to smooth traffic in the area.

The approval ends five years of debate that included a 1998 public vote to allow SeaWorld to exceed the 30-foot coastal height limit for structures. On Tuesday, the council approved the Coastal Commission’s changes to the master plan, as well as an amendment to SeaWorld’s 50-year lease that will implement some of those changes.

SeaWorld has the right to build a 300-room, 30-foot-high hotel on the property but may not build the hotel until at least 2011. Any project that exceeds the 30-foot height limit must still undergo a public hearing process. The park must provide right of way and up to $500,000 for a transit station near its front gate.

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