[KHTS] – The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday on the California Fish and Wildlife Department River permits for Newhall Land’s Newhall Ranch project.
Newhall Ranch is a 19-square-mile development project being pursued by Newhall Land that would add approximately 21,000 homes west of Interstate 5.
The court session lasted for more than an hour and the justices asked many questions, said John Buse, the senior counsel and legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs.
“The court had some excellent questions about all sides,” said Buse. “It’s tough to say where (this case) might be going, but we’re pretty happy they’re taking a closer look.”
The decision will be made in 90 days, or three months, according to Buse.
“We do not quote on pending litigation,” Newhall Land spokeswoman Marlee Laffer told KHTS AM-1220.
The Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment’s concerns about validating this project is water use, loss of floodplains and groundwater recharge areas and greenhouse gases.
Newhall Land and Farming Co. claims that there will be no significant increase in greenhouse gases for the 21,000 unit project, according to SCOPE officials.
“The greenhouse gas issue is especially important as it may set a precedent for other cases in California,” said SCOPE officials.
Another concern of the SCOPE is that the habitat for many endangered species in the area would be destroyed, like the Unarmored Threespine Stickleback fish.
In March 2014, a California Appellate Court ruled in favor of the Newhall Land and Farming and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in a lawsuit regarding environmental reports for a 20,000 unit development project in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The ruling unanimously reversed Judge Ann Jones’ 2012 judgment in favor of the plaintiffs – including the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity and Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment – and allowed the Santa Clara River Alteration Permit for the project to proceed.