FivePoint property looking south-east over Henry Mayo Drive, 126 in Castaic. photo by Dan Watson, The Signal.
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Santa Clarita Valley residents will have more time to look over an environmental report prepared by the  California Department of Fish and Wildlife that addresses two key concerns raised a year ago by California’s highest court that effectively stalled plans to build 21,000 homes for the Newhall Ranch project.

Department officials announced Monday they were extending the public comment and review period for their previously released report called the Draft Additional Environmental Analysis for the Newhall Ranch Resource Management and Development Plan and Spineflower Conservation Plan Final Environmental Impact Report.

In November, when the report was unveiled, the public had 60 days to review it, ot until Jan. 6, 2017.  Now they have until Feb. 13, 2017 to review and comment on it.

Asked why the extension was made, Department spokeswoman Jordan Traverso told The Signal: “We did it after further considering the overlap with the holidays and to ensure the broadest possible notice given the size of, and broad public interest in, the project.”

State officials released the draft EIR in the hope that changes made to the EIR itself would satisfy the court and place Newhall Ranch back on track for construction of the massive housing project.

In November 2015, citing the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and insufficient protection for a tiny endangered fish, the California Supreme Court tossed out the developer’s report concluding 21,000 planned homes in the Newhall Ranch project would not adversely affect the environment.

The court ruled that Newhall Land Development Inc. – now FivePoint – failed to provide evidence in its Environmental Impact Report to prove its project was consistent with meeting state guidelines to control harmful greenhouse gas.

The court also concluded that measures calling for capture and relocation of the unarmored threespine stickleback — a species of fish protected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife — amounted to illegal movement, or “take,” of the endangered indigenous fish.

The Draft AEA can be downloaded at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/5/newhall/DraftAEA. Copies on CD may also be requested by sending an email to newhallranch@wildlife.ca.gov.

Copies of the Draft AEA are available for public review at CDFW’s South Coast Regional Office at the Ruffin Road address, as well as the following locations:

– Old Town Newhall Library, 24500 Main Street, Santa Clarita
– Stevenson Ranch Library, 25950 The Old Road, Stevenson Ranch
– Valencia Library, 23743 West Valencia Boulevard, Santa Clarita
– Sylmar Library, 14561 Polk Street, Sylmar
– E.P. Foster Library, 651 East Main Street, Ventura
– Castaic Library, 27971 Sloan Canyon Road, Castaic
– Department of Fish and Wildlife, 4665 Lampson Ave., Los Alamitos
– Department of Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Planning Branch, 1700 Ninth St., second floor, Sacramento.

Public comments must be limited to issues addressed in the Draft AEA, and must be postmarked or received by email no later than Feb. 13, 2017.

Comments sent to CDFW by regular mail should be sent to the following address:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Comments on Newhall Ranch Draft AEA
c/o Betty Courtney
3883 Ruffin Road
San Diego, CA  92123

jholt@signalscv.com
661-287-5527
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt.com

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