Friant Corridor study outlining growth potential may stay on the shelf

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A study outlining the potential for growth and development along Friant Road north of Fresno may end up staying on the shelf.

The study area runs along Friant Road, from north of Copper Avenue to Lost Lake Park. A study, commissioned by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors outlined the potential for stores, houses and parkways

Several critics, including Jennifer Clark, the city of Fresno's Development Director, and Sharon Weaver of the San Joaquin River and Conservation Trust, told the board of supervisors the study omitted a key concern. Where would the water for development come from.

"The lack of an evaluation of water resources in the area, and water resources available to support development, that was something that was specifically called out as part of the reason for doing the study. It really was not addressed in the study itself, so we think that's sort of a fatal flaw and because of that we encourage you to reject the study," said Weaver.

The county planning commission already rejected the study, twice, citing its lack of information. But developers who financed the study wanted the Board of Supervisors to overrule and accept it anyway.

"We would like just to encourage you to accept this study just for what it is, a concept on the what-if's and the possibilities for this corridor that has always been envisioned as a gateway to recreation," said Dennis Bacopulos, Friant Ranch Development.

Supervisors Debbie Poochigian and Henry Perea were on the board that called for the study, they argued it was just supposed to be a preliminary, not a comprehensive look But Radley Reep, who's been involved in local growth issues, thinks the study was deliberately quiet on the key issue of water.

"I think they may have had an intention to do a good study but that some of the answers that would have come out of it, had they done a complete study, would not have been what they wanted to see so they just decided to gloss over those and skip them," said Reep.

Facing critics, the Board voted unanimously not to accept the study-- but they didn't reject it either. At this point it's not clear if it will be filed away or incorporated into a more detailed analysis.

The Friant Corridor is outside the Fresno city limits, but critics fear its development will continue to the urban sprawl of the Fresno area.

They would like to see a comprehensive study about the impacts of growth in the area.
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