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Judge Rules Against Newhall Ranch Development

An environmental rights attorney is hailing a huge victory after a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled in favor of a group suing Newhall Land and Farming Co., according to an attorney who was a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The ruling poses a fundamental problem for the Newhall Ranch project, which plans to build thousands of homes west of Santa Clarita, according to the attorney.

“The developer will need to address the multiple deficiencies the court found with the project, or it needs to change things significantly,” said John Buse, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.

“They can appeal, that’s certainly an option that they have,” Buse said. “It’s probably going to be many, many months before we see any kind of resolution.”

Judge Ann I. Jones found multiple grounds for the plaintiffs, which included the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, Buse said.

Among the broader issues found with the environmental impact study was a failure to explore lesser alternatives to the several-thousand-home project, as well as inadequate environmental protections for the San Fernando Valley Spineflower, which is an extremely endangered plant, Buse said.

“We’re working very closely with the Department of Fish and Game on all of the issues related to the court’s ruling, and we do intend to appeal the final decision,” said Marlee Lauffer, spokeswoman for Newhall Land and Farming Co.