Business & Real Estate

Neighbors sue to block new Raley’s shopping center on former Capital Nursery site

Drawing shows proposed Raley’s shopping center on Freeport Boulevard. Five neighbors are suing to block the project on environmental grounds.
Drawing shows proposed Raley’s shopping center on Freeport Boulevard. Five neighbors are suing to block the project on environmental grounds.

A group of neighbors filed an environmental lawsuit in an effort to halt development of a new Raley’s supermarket and shopping center on Sacramento’s Freeport Boulevard, saying the project would wreck the residential character of their neighborhood.

Five South Land Park residents sued the city of Sacramento last week, saying the City Council’s approval of the project in November violated the California Environmental Quality Act. The suit says the project would create far greater impacts on the neighborhood than the site’s previous occupant, Capital Nursery.

In the suit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court, the residents charged that city officials ignored “traffic, light, noise, aesthetics and other environmental impacts of the project.” The suit demands that city permits be rescinded and an “adequate” environmental review be conducted.

City Attorney James Sanchez, when asked about the suit, said city officials conducted “a thorough environmental analysis” before approving the plan. The city has also ordered the developer to take steps to address impacts to the surrounding neighborhood, he said.

Raley’s has been hoping to open the new store by August 2018, but CEQA suits can translate into significant delays or outright cancellations.

“We’ll just work through it and we’ll fight it. It’s a good project,” said City Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents the area. “A lot of the neighborhood supports the project.” Officials with Raley’s couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

Raley’s plans to build a 55,000-square-foot supermarket on a Freeport Boulevard parcel a block north of its existing store, which would close. The project, unanimously approved by the City Council, would include an additional 53,000 square feet of space for other retailers. The project is being developed by MO Capital of Menlo Park.

The site had been the Capital Nursery, a longtime fixture on Freeport, until its closure in 2012. But the lawsuit, while acknowledging the site’s commercial history, said the Raley’s project would take up a larger footprint and intrude on their neighborhood.

It would include 457 parking spaces, compared to just 75 operated by Capital Nursery. Loading docks and other elements of the project would be located immediately adjacent to the residential areas.

The suit says the 10-acre site had been zoned for a mix of commercial and residential uses, giving residents some breathing room from commercial activity. “The residential neighborhood to the west of the site is buffered from the busy urban corridor to the east,” the suit says. The city’s decision to rezone the entire site for commercial purposes changes that.

The council approved the plan despite written and verbal protests from dozens of neighbors. One of those filing the lawsuit, Ann Collentine, told the council her home is just 100 feet from the proposed loading docks.

“You can imagine my surprise to think that the trucks will be coming at 5 a.m. and be allowed to load and unload until 11 p.m.,” she told the council in November. She labeled the project “an overbuild for its site.”

Besides Collentine, the suit was filed by Jon Kevin Williams, Catherine Bunch, Brandon Sherrets and Linda Hennessy. They are represented by Los Angeles lawyer Joshua Levine.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler