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New Challenge to SW Fresno Industrial Project: SoCal Enviro Group Sues City, Developer
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By Edward Smith
Published 1 month ago on
March 15, 2024

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An environmental group is suing the city of Fresno and a builder over a 900,000-square-foot industrial project.

Plaintiffs say the environmental document was inadequate.

Developer representatives say they expected the lawsuit, the project is moving forward.


After a national development company got clearance for a $100 million industrial project in southwest Fresno, a Southern California environmental group is trying to stop it with a lawsuit.

Objections to the 900,000-square-foot project near Marks Avenue and Highway 180 first arose after builder Scannell Properties did not agree to use union labor to construct four buildings.

Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias appealed the planning commission approval citing the project’s potential environmental impacts. During a city council hearing on Feb. 22 — when the project was approved — he also cited the absence of a project labor agreement.

Now, a lawsuit from Corona-based Golden State Environmental Justice Alliance claims emissions would further impact the already pollution-burdened part of town. The group is suing Scannell and the city of Fresno.

But project broker Nick Audino, senior vice president with Newmark Pearson Commercial, said the lawsuit didn’t surprise the builders. Construction will move forward regardless of the lawsuit, he said.

“I think we knew that there were going to be some additional challenges that came after our city council approval,” Audino said. “But the city council approval was a major step in the process for Scannell and whatever remains before we’re able to get vertical with new construction is simply what’s next.”

Who is Golden State Environmental Justice Alliance?

The environmental advocates filed the lawsuit on March 1 in the Fresno County Superior Court. They allege that the city approved Scannell’s EIR even though it violated California environmental law.

Attorneys for the alliance say truck traffic to and from the site after construction would cause more pollution. The project does not yet have a tenant.

Paul Starn, project manager with Scannell, said the EIR covers a wide range of tenants and impacts. However, Arias said that absent a tenant, analysts couldn’t predict how much pollution the project would produce.

Councilmembers eventually approved the project 5-2, with Arias and Councilmember Luis Chavez opposed.

According to the alliance’s website, the nonprofit has an office at 1265 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 100 in Fresno — the same address as the Law Offices of David L. Milligan. Milligan said they are tenants in the building, but they are not affiliated with one another.

The group also sued the city of Santa Clarita in 2018 over a master-planned development called Sand Canyon Plaza, which envisioned 580 residential units and 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Judges dismissed that case.

Similarly, the group sued the city of Los Angeles in 2019 after appealing a 34-story residential building. The California Court of Appeal ruled against the group, allowing the project to move forward.

In 2020, CEQA lawsuits sought to block 48,000 housing units statewide — or just under half of that year’s housing production, according to law firm Holland & Knight.

(City of Fresno)

Builders Say Project Could Bring 1,000 Construction Jobs, Up to 1,000 Industrial Jobs

Builders eyed Fresno for the speculative project because of the lack of available industrial space, Audino previously told GV Wire. Once completed, the project could employ 1,000 people during construction. The number of industrial jobs would depend on the tenant. Project managers said it could mean up to 1,000 jobs.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said projects like these were important to correct Fresno’s damaged reputation for getting projects approved.

“We, unfortunately, do have a reputation in Fresno for not being business-friendly. Some of that being deserved, some of it undeserved, but it has caused development to move into nearby jurisdictions,” Dyer said at the city council meeting. “I believe this is our opportunity as a city to prove otherwise, that we are business-friendly, and we welcome responsible business in our community.”

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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