Clovis News

Clovis Walmart site faces court appeal

A judge's approval of a Clovis shopping center that includes a Walmart Supercenter is being appealed to the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno.

The appeal, filed last week in Fresno, comes nearly two months after a Fresno County Superior Court judge ruled that the Clovis City Council correctly approved the project.

The Association for Sensible and Informed Planning, a local group opposing the project, and their lawyers contend the city did not properly take water supplies and urban blight into account when they approved plans for the 491,000-square-foot shopping center at Herndon and Clovis avenues.

The anchor store is a 212,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter.

The appeal can only relate to issues raised during the December hearing in Judge Wayne Ellison's courtroom, said Brett Jolley, lawyer for ASIP.

"We certainly appreciate the time Judge Ellison put into deciding the case but we do disagree with his conclusion as it relates to the environmental effects," Jolley said.

Developer David Paynter, who has been trying to build the shopping center for more than seven years, said Thursday that he is not surprised by the appeal.

But he said the continual legal filings are disturbing.

"It's a misuse of the California Environmental Quality Act to try and further delay the project," he said.

During a December hearing, lawyers with ASIP said the city understated and tried to hide the amount of water that would be used by the project.

But in a 22-page ruling issued in January, Ellison rejected the claim.

Opponents also argued that the city already has enough retail vacancies to qualify as urban decay, and that the project would cause further urban decay by driving out smaller retailers. But the judge disagreed, even though he acknowledged the supercenter could result in additional retail vacancies.

The judge also pointed to the city's success in using code enforcement to stem urban blight.

As part of his order, the judge allowed construction to begin on the site. Construction is not yet under way.