Developer agrees to preserve Lodi farmland

LODI -- A developer agreed to preserve hundreds of acres of farmland as part of a deal to gain approval for a housing project that had come under protest from a citizens group.

FCB Homes, which proposed two developments that would add nearly 2,000 homes near Lodi, agreed to purchase easements on at least 392 acres of farmland in San Joaquin County on Wednesday. The easements would prohibit the land from being developed.

A group called the Lodi Citizens for Open Government met with the builder to push for the easements after the organization accused city officials of not being aggressive enough in protecting farmland.

"Citizens shouldn't be in this role. This type of issue should be handled by the public agency," said Ann Cerney, the group's leader.

The San Joaquin Valley Land Co., builder of a 220-acre project, also agreed earlier this month to preserve at least as muchfarmland as it planned to develop.