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When Lake County approved plans for a sprawling, luxury development in the Guenoc Valley wine region in the summer of 2020, officials hailed the project as an economic “game-changer” that would create “mind-boggling” employment.

But almost a month later, as the lightning-sparked LNU Lightning Complex fire enveloped the development’s only evacuation route — a two-lane highway that winds through a steep canyon — critics said the plan was a potential disaster not only for future residents, but for those who already lived nearby.

Had the project been completed, they said, thousands of evacuees could have spilled onto the road and created a bottleneck similar to the one that doomed residents of Paradise in the 2018 Camp fire.

Now, a state court has sided with environmentalists and the California attorney general, and ruled that the county must set aside its approvals of the 16,000-acre mixed-use project, dubbed Maha Guenoc Valley, because the county failed to properly analyze how the development would affect evacuation routes during a wildfire.

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