Newhall Land Development Wins In Court
Appellate court re-certifies West Creek Environmental Impact Report
In Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment v. County of Los Angeles, the Court of Appeal held that the Environmental Impact Report for Newhall's West Creek project adequately discussed the uncertainties surrounding that water transfer, and provided substantial evidence supporting the County’s decision to approve West Creek.
“This is a significant ruling as it relates to water law and this is a clear rejection of SCOPE’s constant effort to abuse the legal system to try to stop quality growth,” said Marlee Lauffer, Newhall Land spokesperson.
This decision ends Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment (SCOPE) and Friends of the Santa Clara River’s long standing challenge of this Valencia neighborhood. Newhall Land says that because of SCOPE’s litigation, ongoing since 2001, initial delays occurred to Rio Norte Jr High School and road improvements, including portions of the cross valley connector and the Decoro Bridge over San Fransiquito Creek. The lawsuit, they say, has also delayed the building of West Creek Elementary School and the West Creek Community Park.
The published decision also upholds the validity of the Santa Clarita Valley's longstanding transfer of State Water Project water that has been the focus of legal challenges by SCOPE and other anti-growth activists over the last six years in a concerted effort to limit development in the Santa Clarita Valley.
West Creek was approved by Los Angeles County in 2000. SCOPE litigated, claiming that there will not be enough water available in the SCV to serve the new community of approximately 2300 homes. The Superior Court upheld the County’s EIR but an appellate court determined in a 2003 decision that the water service section needed additional analysis.
Newhall Land went back through the county review and approval process and the revised EIR was certified by a trial court in January 2006. SCOPE and Friends of the River again appealed and this decision is the result of that appeal.