After a decade of studies, Newhall Ranch cleared a hurdle Wednesday when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District issued a permit for the proposed development.

“This permit is definitely a major step forward,” Newhall Land spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer said. “We’ve been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for over a decade in doing a detailed analysis of environmental impacts related to Newhall Ranch.”

Newhall Land Development Inc. has proposed building a 20,000-home development that would spread south and west from Interstate 5 and state Highway 126. It would mirror the size and scale of Valencia, the development company’s first planned community.

“With this permit, we have state and federal environmental permits to implement the Newhall Ranch specific plan,” Lauffer said.

The company will continue to pursue other permits for Newhall Ranch while working on county approval, she said.

In a statement, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the permit decision protects more than 8,500 acres of environmental space, which includes the Santa Clara River, Newhall Ranch High Country, Salt Creek Corridor and Spineflower preserves.

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