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Planning commission OKs massive housing development

The Merced County Planning Commission voted Wednesday to accept plans for the largest housing development ever proposed in Merced County -- a reversal from the commission's previous decision to reject the project.

Dubbed the Villages of Laguna San Luis, the proposal would effectively create a new town on the county's Westside.

If it’s built as envisioned, Laguna San Luis would add 16,000 homes and 45,000 people over the next 30 years to the area just west of Los Banos and south of Santa Nella.

A group of landowners pushing the project first proposed it nearly 20 years ago.

On Wednesday, the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to recommend Laguna San Luis for approval. The Board Supervisors will make the ultimate decision over whether the proposal can move forward.

This week's outcome reverses a previous Planning Commission vote. In June the commission split 2-2 on whether to recommend Laguna San Luis. The reversal is certainly good news for the dozens of landowners and developers behind Laguna San Luis, though their fight is far from over. They must win several more approvals before breaking ground.