Appellate court decision delays Friant Ranch development

The Fresno BeeMay 29, 2014 

Standing at the entrance to Fresno County's Lost Lake Park, Dennis Bacopulos, a developer proposing the 2,500-home Friant Ranch development in the foothills just south of the town of Friant, holds an artist's rendering and points out how the development will appear in the hills across Friant Road.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE

The Friant Ranch residential development was delayed again after the 5th District Court of Appeal ruled the developers must add an air quality component to the environmental impact report for the 970-acre project.

The appeal court judges ruled that the study lacked a correlation between pollution and its health effects, said Bryan Wagner, lawyer for Friant Ranch developers.

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved the 25,000-page environmental document in 2011, including a finding that the pollution was unavoidable.

"The next step is to find out how much worse it would be," Wagner said.

Agreements reached earlier this year led the San Joaquin River Parkway Trust and the city of Fresno to end suits against the development.

Friant Ranch, proposed by the Bigelow-Silkwood family, would be a community of about 5,000 residents next to the tiny town of Friant across from Lost Lake Park.

The development would bring homes, shops and businesses to the rural area and cater to the 55-and-older set, similar to popular retirement communities in Arizona and Southern California.

The appeal court ruling will delay the project six to nine months, Wagner said.

A suit by the Sierra Club and League of Women Voters is still unresolved and is the only case outstanding.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6166, mbenjamin@fresnobee.com or @beebenjamin on Twitter.

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