Fresno Sups OK shortcut for developers

FRESNO, California

No formal plans have been presented, but, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors decided to allow the developer to hire its own environmental consultant.

Granville Vice President Jeff Roberts says it will speed the process of getting an Environmental Impact Review completed.

"What the board did was to allow applicants to select from an approved list of consultants and move forward with the selection process which does save a lot of time."

Until now the county had selected the consultants to prepare the environmental impact for any project. The developer would pay for the consultants work, but the county had to put the process out to bid, and the process can take six months or more.

Supervisor Henry Perea said, "I think in this case it makes sense to me we eliminate that six month process."

Supervisor Perea is behind the move to speed things but there were concerns from members of the public and environmental groups.

Radley Reep of the Audobon Society told the board, "You cannot have the developer out on his own deciding what he's going to do."

Gary Lasky of the Sierra Club told the board giving the developer the ability to select its own environmental consultant will seem suspicious to some.

Lasky explained, "The public is more likely to be alarmed, file a lawsuit, challenge it in court and so if we want to see a streamlined process that runs smoothly we need a process run by the county rather than delegating their responsibilities on this."

But the supervisors went ahead and approved the shortcut, for a one year trial period, while they promised to work out details to assure the county still monitors the environmental work.

Plans for the medical campus are expected to be released in a couple of months.

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