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City expects Supercenter suit
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City officials say they expect a legal challenge to last month's City Council approval of a Walmart Supercenter. And if the opponents' flair for waiting until the last minute holds true, the legal appeal will come minutes before 5 p.m. on Oct. 13.

"Yes, I would say we probably expect them to file but maybe they won't," said City Attorney Michael Lyions. "It seems to have been their practice around the state to do so."

The Ceres City Council voted 3-0 to reject an appeal of the Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center project on Sept. 12. The council upheld the Planning Commission's approval of the Walmart owned project. The council action also included a certification of the project's extensive Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

A group calling themselves Citizens for Ceres filed the appeal of the project however insiders note that attorney Brett Jolley is the real driving force. The Stockton attorney has filed similar suits in other locations in California - including Bakersfield, Clovis, Chico, Elk Grove, Crescent City and Milpitas - in an attempt to prevent the building of Supercenters.

Lyions said that any legal challenge must take place within 30 days of the filing of a document called the Notice of Determination based on the city's approval of the EIR. If a legal challenge is filed it likely will be some facet of challenging the environmental document, he said.

"It's hard to predict ... but that's what what I would strongly suspect."

The city has an agreement with Walmart that indemnifies the city against a lawsuit as well as foots the bill.

The 185,668-square-foot Supercenter is proposed as the anchor store of a center at the corner of Service and Mitchell.

roads. The project will serve as a southern gateway project to include 10 other retail shops of an additional 114,162 square feet of retail space, including three other major tenants and four smaller shops as well as a stand-alone retail building and two to three new restaurants.

The soonest a Walmart Supercenter could open in Ceres would be 18 months but a legal challenge could protract matters for years.