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This 288-acre parcel next to the flag barn is earmarked to be Madera County's newest master planned community. Photos by George Lurie

New Master Planned Community Off Highway 41 Gets Approval for Environmental Study

MADERA — A new master planned community an L.A. developer wants to build along Highway 41 took its first official step forward last week.

On Tuesday, May 14, the Madera County Board of Supervisors OK’d an agreement that will allow a consultant working for the county to do an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the proposed 281-acre mixed-use project just south of Tesoro Viejo between Avenues 12 and 14.

Initial plans for the new development call for 769 single- and multi-family homes, with 43 acres earmarked for light industrial and 60 acres designated as open space.

To be built just off the east side of Highway 41, the development site borders the 200-acre “flag barn” property that Community Medical Centers purchased in 2017 but has yet to develop.

The project was unveiled as “Paseo Sereno” but the project manager says the name “is going to change in the next 30 days.”

“We wanted to get the EIR work started as quickly as possible and will announce the new name soon,” said Jim Kopshever, project manager for the new development. “I’ve already been working on this for four years.”

The development company, Canyon Springs Shopping Center LLC, is actually a subsidiary of ICO Development, a real estate  group run by veteran Beverly Hills developer Isaac Moradi.

Jamie Bax, Madera County’s deputy community and economic development director for planning, said last week county planners “are still getting familiar” with Canyon Springs’ proposal.

“This is a newly submitted project application,” Bax said. “Because of the size, we knew it would require an EIR.”

The new community’s footprint would be considerably smaller than Madera County’s two newest master planned developments. Tesoro Viejo sits on 1,600 acres and Riverstone on the west side of Highway 41 sits on 2,000 acres. (At full build out, Riverstone will have 6,500 houses and Tesoro Viejo will include 5,100.)

Fresno-based Rincon Consultants will be working with the county to complete the EIR for the developer.

According to the agreement authorized last week by supervisors, the developer will pay Rincon $354,484 to do the EIR — and will also pay the county about $70,000 in administrative fees as the plan winds its way through the approvals process.

The EIR process is expected to take at least 18 months to complete.

If the environmental report is favorable, both the planning commission and board must still approve the project, which could  take “anywhere from 5 to 10 years more years,” said Matt Treber, Madera County community and economic development director.

Rincon works with both public and private sector clients across California, specializing in environmental science, planning and engineering.

As part of Tuesday’s agreement with the county, some time next year Rincon will host a public meeting to update the community on the project.

Bax will manage the project for the county and expects plans will “probably be tweaked and changed a bit as we get further into it. This is just the start,” she said.

Under the current project timeline, Rincon expects to come back to the board with final project certifications in January 2021.

There are hopes that CMC will build a new medical facility on the property next to the development site but CMC has yet to submit a development application, according to Bax.

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