The Fresno City Council agreed to a settlement with a neighborhood group to stave off an environmental lawsuit over concerns with a proposed south Fresno industrial park.
The City Council passed the agreement 6-0, with Council woman Esmeralda Soria absent.
This settlement brings to an end a process that started back in 2017, when the Caglia Family of Companies submitted an application to develop parts of the “reverse triangle” – also known as the industrial triangle – located on the northwest corner of Central and Cedar avenues.
In early 2018, the Fresno planning commission and the City Council signed off on the project, but shortly after a group named South Central Neighbors United raised concerns with the city, alleging that the city did not properly follow environmental reviews for the 2 million-square foot industrial park.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra intervened on behalf of the group, throwing an additional – hefty – wrench into the proposed development.
Caglia cancelled the project in early 2019 with a potential environmental lawsuit holding a firm grip on the whole operation.
The possibility of a lawsuit against the city continued as developer G4 Enterprises, operated by the Parnagian Family, had also applied to develop part of the industrial triangle.
Thursday’s settlement gives G4 Enterprises the green light to begin construction – which could place a second Amazon fulfillment facility in the area, sources told The Sun – and opens the door for developers to take a second look at projects in the industrial triangle.
“This really was an unprecedented effort, and I believe it was an achievement,” Leland Parnagian told the council before the vote. “It’s one that I’ve seen nothing like in the 16 years that I’ve been involved in industrial development within the City of Fresno. I’m really incredibly thankful for everyone’s time and effort to get this to the point that we’re able to have this before you tonight for your consideration.”
Caglia told The Sun that he was happy to hear about the settlement and thinks it will be good for economic development moving forward, especially as it presents more employment opportunities for people who have suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The settlement agreement includes the following:
- Establishes a $300,000 Community Benefit Fund, funded by G4 Enterprises, which will provide improvements to the area to limit light pollution, traffic, noise and air quality.
- Water and sewer service will be extended to residential properties in the area.
- Several pedestrian safety improvements will be installed, such as additional crosswalks and a pedestrian and cyclist safety plan.
- The city will work to develop charging stations to support electric vehicles.
On Thursday, Councilman Miguel Arias said the new development from G4 Enterprises should provide 1,000 new jobs.
In a statement, he celebrated the agreement as paving the way for collaborative development with neighbors in south Fresno.
“This settlement begins to address what should have been done years ago,” Arias said. “It sets the basic guard rails that protect people’s health and safety, and helps industrial business to be good neighbors.”
“The agreement demonstrates that jobs do not have to come at the expense of working people’s health and safety and is further evidence that we can create quality jobs that do not harm our neighborhoods nor require millions in taxpayer subsidies.”
Arias also thanked South Fresno residents for years of pushing for health and safety upgrades.
“Thank you for your patience and persistence to address the impacts of industry and for working with us to rebuild a better Fresno for everyone.”
While early estimates of prospective job creation with the development are encouraging, the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation revealed that the lack of development in the industrial triangle over the past four years cost the city thousands of jobs.
Lee Ann Eager, the President and CEO of the EDC, told GV Wire last December that the city lost out on 5,000 jobs as companies chose to build facilities elsewhere.