A federal court judge in Los Angeles issued a ruling on Tuesday upholding the validity of dredging permits issued under the Clean Water Act to facilitate the development of the Newhall Ranch community in Santa Clarita.
The 39-page decision from U.S. District Court Judge Philip S. Gutierrez granted summary judgment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issued the permits eight years ago, and Santa Clarita developer Newhall Land. The ruling came in an environmental lawsuit that claimed the dredging permits for infrastructure development on the Santa Clara River were granted improperly.
The lawsuit is one of four that have been filed by environmental groups over the past several years aiming to block the planned development by Newhall Land, which when built out would total 20,000 residences and 5 million square feet of office space over more than 2,500 acres.
“The exhaustive review by the Corps was affirmed by the federal court to have been completed diligently, properly and in accordance with all applicable federal laws,” said Emile Haddad, chief executive of Five Point Communities, the Aliso Viejo development manager for the massive project, in a prepared statement..
Attorneys for the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, did not return calls for comment on the judge’s ruling. Three remaining legal challenges to the planned development continue, including an appeal of the state’s environmental report that is scheduled to be heard before the California Supreme Court.
The plaintiffs could appeal the ruling, but even if upheld, it would not allow the development to move forward given the other pending litigation.