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For two decades, the Tejon Ranch Co. has envisioned a community of 57,000 people rising just off Interstate 5 on the southern flanks of the Tehachapi Mountains, about 70 miles north of Los Angeles.

With that goal in mind, the company brokered an agreement with several major environmental organizations in 2008 to conserve 240,000 acres of undeveloped mountains, grasslands and twisted oaks that are home to such species as California condors and mountain lions. In exchange, the groups agreed not to oppose the company’s controversial Centennial project.

The proposal to build 19,300 homes on 6,700 acres bordering Kern County won final certification two years ago from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and the company declared that it had been vindicated.

But plans to build the massive development were thrown into question this week when Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff rejected the county’s approval of the developer’s environmental impact report, effectively blocking construction.

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