More comment time sought

first_imgAside from protests, county planners recently learned two federal agencies – the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Fish and Wildlife – are working with the developer, The Newhall Land and Farming Company, on their own environmental studies of the projects. The focus is the potential impact on the Santa Clara, which flows through Newhall Ranch en route to the Pacific. A common theme among roughly half the 63 letters regarding Landmark Village was there wasn’t enough time to review the enormous environmental study over the allotted 60-day public comment period, which included the holiday season. “There is so much material, it is difficult for everyone concerned to access the document in hard copy; reading it online limits and prolongs the process,” Janet Bergman, president of the Piru Neighborhood Council, wrote to the commission. “That and the fact that the document was released during the holiday season hampers a thoughtful review and analysis of the project.” Typically the Regional Planning Department allows just 45 days for public comment on environmental impact reviews but extended the period because of the holidays, planner Susan Ate said Monday. The state Department of Fish and Game sought a 30-day extension to review the studies and the Sierra Club, Friends of the Santa Clara River, Truculent Watchdogs, the statewide Planning and Conversation League and other groups also asked for more time. County planners have received dozens of requests, mostly from environmental groups, urging more time to add their comments before this week’s final hearing on the first phase of the huge Newhall Ranch project. The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission was set to close the public hearing Wednesday on Landmark Village, a 293-acre, 1,444-home development within the 22,000-home Newhall Ranch. Now the five-member commission will consider public requests for an extension of one to two months. Newhall Ranch is planned west of Santa Clarita along state Route 126 to the Ventura County line. Landmark Village is slated for a rectangular-shape piece of land wedged between the highway and the Santa Clara River flanked by the existing Wolcott Way and Chiquito Canyon Road. Concerns also came from an American Indian group; the California Highway Patrol, which has jurisdiction over Route 126; and the Daubing Society, which said environmental studies don’t detail the threat development in the area would have on rare birds. The county has approved Newhall Ranch overall, but must review each phase in detail before construction can begin. Newhall Land hopes to break ground next year. Support comes from the Southern California Association of Governments, which noted the region faces a housing shortage and that the project appears to be well thought out in terms of jobs, transportation and other plans. Meanwhile, the West Ranch Town Council is beginning a study to determine the economic feasibility of forming a city encompassing the communities west of Santa Clarita – including Newhall Ranch. If Santa Clarita’s cityhood drive two decades ago is an indicator, it’s unlikely Newhall Land will agree to include Newhall Ranch under a new city’s jurisdiction. Developers fought to keep their land out of Santa Clarita’s boundaries fearful a new city would seek stringent growth-control measures. [email protected] (661) 257-5251160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more