Judge hears arguments on Friant Ranch project

FRESNO, Calif.

The hills along Friant Road would be transformed into residential and commercial development under the Friant Ranch project across from Lost Lake. But the plan approved by Fresno County has been the target of several lawsuits.

Critics of Friant Ranch are concerned with added traffic, air and water pollution. Developers, though, see this area with rolling foothills as the perfect spot to build a large housing development for seniors.

The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust has filed a lawsuit to halt the project. Chairman Coke Hallowell feels a new environmental impact report with impact fees should be ordered.

"So that that community can support the park. They're right across the street. The impact would be dramatic here if there is six or eight- thousand people living right there. They'll be using the park," Hallowell said.

Fresno County supervisors have already approved the project but the City of Fresno filed a lawsuit over claims of unnecessary sprawl. The conservation trust also had concerns with a planned sewage treatment plant.

"Its proximity to the river. If we had a flooding year there is great potential for water pollution issues to happen. Second, the visual impact of it. This is a very important park for us. You see people fishing today," program director Sarah Parkes said.

Developers believe the project would help revitalize Friant. A Fresno County judge on Friday heard arguments for and against Friant Ranch.

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