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Newhall Ranch development clears environmental hurdle

August 10, 2011 | 10:54 am

Newhall Ranch

Clearing a major obstacle to development of a community of 60,000 residents along the last wild river in Southern California, two federal agencies have resolved their disagreement over a proposal to build homes in a flood plain.

Earlier this year, the EPA questioned whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is set to permit the Newhall Ranch development, had adequately considered the threat of flooding caused by building in the Santa Clara River flood plain.

The agency also questioned effects on water quality, cultural resources, endangered species and downstream communities.

Jared Blumenfeld, EPA regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, threatened to elevate the case to the agency's headquarters in Washington for review, an unusual step that could have resulted in a veto of the 12,000-acre Newhall Land project, about 35 miles north of Los Angeles.

--Louis Sahagun

Photo: Newhall Land officials Mark Subbotin, left, Marlee Lauffer and Steven D. Zimmer tour Newhall Ranch, which has cleared a major development hurdle. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times / January 13, 2011)