The 5th District Court of Appeals in Fresno has upheld a lower-court decision clearing the way for Tejon Ranch Co. to develop a gated community of 3,450 homes, a 160,000-square-foot shopping center, two golf courses and up to 750 hotel rooms on 5,082 acres near Interstate 5 just north of the Los Angeles-Kern County line.
Kern County Superior court Judge Kenneth Twisselman had ruled earlier that Tejon Ranch Co. and its real estate partner, DMB Pacific Ventures LLC of Scottsdale, Ariz., had properly evaluated the environmental impacts of the project, known as Tejon Mountain Village.
The project will be located immediately north of Gorman, on the east side of Interstate 5 opposite the Frazier Mountain Park Road and Lebec exits. The homes are to surround Castac Lake — the natural lake outside of Lebec, not to be confused with the manmade Castaic Reservoir to the south.
Castac Lake. Click for information.
"We are obviously very pleased with the ruling and believe it's a further affirmation of the quality and environmental sensitivity of Tejon Mountain Village," DMB Pacific President Eneas Kane said in a statement.
As part of the development process, Tejon Ranch crafted a deal whereby it would transfer 90 percent of its 270,000 acres to the state of California through a combination of gift and sale. In return, a host of environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Planning and Conservation League, Endangered Habitats League and Audubon California agreed not to challenge Tejon's development plans in court.
"The sale of homes within Tejon Mountain Village will generate an on-going funding stream for the operation and activities of the independent Tejon Ranch Conservancy" (to care for the conservation property), the company said in a statement.
The appeal had been filed by several groups that weren't party to the agreement: the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, the TriCounty Watchdogs, Wishtoyo Foundation (a Chumash Indian organization) and the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment.
Tejon Ranch Co. intends to build a total of 26,000 homes on the remaining acreage on both sides of the Los Angeles-Kern county border.