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SANTEE, CA-The largest development project in this East County community’s recent history has received some welcome help from the feds.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved a plan that will allow a 60-home development near Rattlesnake Mountain to move forward. The city plans to approve grading permits for the 100-acre project next month.

Developers toned down the project after neighbors complained it would generate traffic, noise and damage sensitive habitat. The endangered coastal California gnatcatcher has been spotted in the area. A private-citizen group filed a lawsuit challenging the project, compelling the city and the developer to negotiate with the federal agency to come up with a habitat protection plan.

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