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L.A. County OKs Newhall Ranch development's second phase

The Board of Supervisors approves the Mission Village segment, which will have 4,000 housing units, 580 acres of open space and three preserves. Environmentalists say the Santa Clarita Valley project will worsen traffic and pollution.

October 26, 2011|By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County supervisors Tuesday approved plans for the second phase of a controversial development near Six Flags Magic Mountain in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The Mission Village segment of the Newhall Ranch project will contain nearly 4,000 housing units, an elementary school, 580 acres of open space and three preserves designed to protect a rare species of flowers. Newhall Ranch was first approved by supervisors in 2003 after nearly seven years of debate but has been mired in legal challenges and debate since.

A coalition of environmental groups had asked the supervisors to review Mission Village, saying it could potentially lead to worse traffic and more pollution.

But supporters said the development should have little or no environmental impact and will also provide an economic boost by bringing about 6,000 permanent and 13,000 temporary positions to the area.

"We know it will help create… much needed jobs," said Jonas Peterson, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp.

Four supervisors voted for the village. Not voting was Zev Yaroslavsky, who was the only supervisor to oppose Newhall Ranch in 2003. He stepped out of the meeting when the development discussion began.

Earlier this month, supervisors also approved the plans for Landmark Village, Newhall Ranch's first phase. The entire project could take up to 25 years to build.

Developers hope to break ground on Mission Village within several years, said Marlee Lauffer, a spokeswoman for Newhall Land, the company backing Newhall Ranch. It is unclear how much Mission Village will cost and developers still have to submit some building and grading plans, Lauffer said.

Several groups, including the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, also questioned whether the development could lead to more erosion and ecological degradation on the Santa Clara River, the last wild waterway in Southern California.

County planners said the groups' concerns had been addressed, something environmentalists disputed.

They also questioned whether the Santa Clarita Valley needs more housing, especially given the poor economy.

"This is like fantasy land," said Lynne Plambeck, a Mission Village opponent who is president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment. She later said her group and others could sue to stop the project.

jason.song@latimes.com

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