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Land DevelopmentThe City of Modesto and Downey Brand client Berberian Holdings, L.P. (“Berberian”), have prevailed in a legal challenge to a commercial development project proposed by Berberian. On June 7, the Fifth District Court of Appeal issued a 45-page unpublished opinion in the action (Naraghi Lakes Neighborhood Preservation Association v. City of Modesto), affirming the Stanislaus County Superior Court’s judgment in favor of the City and Berberian.

The proposed project is an 18-acre, approximately 170,000-square-foot shopping center to be built on vacant land in Modesto adjacent to a residential neighborhood. In January 2014, the Modesto City Council approved the entitlements for the project – including a general plan amendment and zoning change – and certified the project EIR.

A neighborhood group opposed to the project filed a petition for writ of mandate with the Superior Court. Petitioner alleged that the City’s actions violated a number of policies in the City’s general plan, including “neighborhood plan prototype” policies and a rezoning policy. It also alleged that the EIR failed to comply with CEQA, challenging the evidence and findings concerning the feasibility of mitigation measures for traffic impacts, the absence of urban decay impacts, and the statement of overriding considerations. In March 2015, the trial court denied the petition on all grounds and entered judgment in favor of the City and Berberian. The Court of Appeal has now affirmed in full.

Downey Brand attorney Don Sobelman represented Berberian in both the trial court and appellate court, as well as in the entitlement and environmental review process.