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UPDATE: Another victory for Newhall Ranch

Judge upholds environmental review for phase 2 of the giant project

Posted: May 27, 2014 10:57 a.m.
Updated: May 27, 2014 3:07 p.m.
 

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge upheld the environmental review for phase 2 of the planned Newhall Ranch development, handing the developer another victory this year for the mammoth project.

“The record demonstrates that (Los Angeles) County adequately considered all relevant factors, including those raised by petitioners on appeal, as well as the newly raised issues in this present action,” Judge John A. Torribio wrote in a decision handed down earlier this month.

A number of environmental groups, including the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment and Friends of the Santa Clara River, had challenged the county’s approval of the environmental impact report prepared for the Mission Village development, phase 2 of the Newhall Ranch project.

The groups cited concerns with the development’s potential impacts on natural habitat in the area, as well as potential issues with greenhouse gas emissions.

When fully built out, Mission Village is due to include 4,055 homes, an elementary school and hundreds of acres of open space on 1,262 acres south of the interchange of Highway 126 and Interstate 5.

“We are very pleased with the strong and clear ruling by the Superior Court that affirms the county’s extensive review of Mission Village and its detailed EIR complying with the California Environmental Quality Act requirements,“ said Marlee Lauffer, spokeswoman for Newhall Land Development Inc., in a news release.

Newhall Ranch is a long-planned and much-debated development that would add some 21,000 new homes to the Santa Clarita Valley’s northwest side.

Newhall Land Development Inc., the same company that developed Valencia, planned the Newhall Ranch project.

“During the past 15 years, Valencia- and Newhall Ranch-related projects have been subject to more than 20 lawsuits, filed mostly by the same group of opponents,” Lauffer said in the release. “Their repeated arguments have been systematically rejected by the courts.”

In March, Second Appellate District Court judges reversed a 2012 decision and upheld the findings of Newhall Ranch’s Environmental Impact Report.

Earlier this year, Torribio tossed out a lawsuit filed by local environmentalists against the county for approving phase 1 of Newhall Ranch, known as Landmark Village.

“This was the same judge that ruled against us on Landmark, so the decision came as no surprise,” wrote Lynne Plambeck, president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, in an email. “It remains astonishing to us that any court could find that a 21,000-unit, auto-dependent project on the outskirts of Los Angeles will have no significant impact on climate change.

“We must do land use differently if we are ever to slow down climate warming,” she wrote.

Plambeck also described Mission Village as “essentially a closed-down oil field.”

“While the wells have been closed, new ‘fracking’ technology could impact future residents, especially since they will not own the mineral rights under their homes,” she wrote. “This was not addressed in the environmental documents for this 4,000-unit project.”

In a section labeled “Abandoned Oil Fields” the recent court decision reads, “The EIR need not evaluate the impacts of the existing environment on the project but, rather, the EIR should evaluate the project’s impacts on the environment.”

Lmoney@signalscv.com
661-287-5525
On Twitter @LukeMMoney

 

 

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