Big names launch suit over proposed Fresno congregate living facility

The project’s neighbors are seeking to keep the facility out of a residential neighborhood that is near an elementary school.

In October the Fresno City Council approved plans for a congregate housing facility in North Fresno, near Malloch Elementary School. 

Now the high profile neighbors of the project are suing the city, claiming the city’s approval violates the California Environmental Quality Act. 


The backstory: Many of the neighbors spoke against the project at the city council meeting on Oct. 22, but the council gave its stamp of approval for the skilled nursing facility. 

  • The facility will be located across the street from Malloch Elementary School directly adjacent to residential housing on W. Bullard Ave. between N. Van Ness Blvd. and N. Forkner Ave. 
  • Infinite Living plans to expand the existing 3,310 square-foot home into a 4,500 square-foot facility residence and add two more buildings that have a combined area of 9,011 square feet. 
  • Each building will have 18 beds for people in need of acute care and skilled nursing services. 

The big picture: Neighbors Brent Smittcamp, Chelsey Juarez and Viktor Zaytsev filed the CEQA lawsuit against the city last month in the Fresno County Superior Court. 

  • Their lawsuit challenges the city’s approval of a conditional use permit for the project on the basis that it violates CEQA because the city improperly decided that the project was exempt from an environmental review. 
  • The plaintiffs argue that the project is well beyond the scope of development to which the infill exemption can apply for avoiding a CEQA review. 
  • They also argue that the city violated its own land use planning and zoning laws by approving the project since Fresno’s general plan and community plan prohibits medical facilities in residential neighborhoods. 
  • They accuse the city of skirting that rule by mischaracterizing it as a residential, non-medical development while it is actually a commercial medical facility.

What they’re saying: Legal representatives for Infinite Living declined to comment, citing the pendency of litigation.

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