Marin County planners approve George Lucas project

  • In this artist rendering released by Lucas Films, a drawing of the proposed Industry Light & Magic campus, is shown. Residents in a tony Marin County neighborhood just north of San Francisco have balked at filmmaker George Lucas' plans to build his next Industry Light & Magic campus in their upscale, rural community. The 275,000+ square foot complex with an outdoor sound stage and undergrounding parking for 250 cars would result in too much traffic, noise and environmental impacts to their bedroom community. (AP Photo/Lucas Films)

SAN RAFAEL — Officials on Monday approved a controversial plan by filmmaker George Lucas to expand his digital empire on historic Marin County farmland.

After a daylong hearing, the Marin County planning commission unanimously voted in favor of the proposal to build a 270,000-square-foot digital media production compound in a quiet valley that has been home to Lucas' Skywalker Ranch for three decades.

Opponents of the Grady Ranch project have two weeks to appeal the commission's decision to the county Board of Supervisors.

The complex would be next to Lucas' other filmmaking operations — Skywalker Ranch and Big Rock — in Lucas Valley, named for a 19th century rancher and no relation to the 67-year-old maker of the Star Wars movies.

But neighbors say the giant complex will generate noise, traffic and environmental damage on pristine land about a half-hour drive north of the Golden Gate Bridge. They also argue that the project violates local zoning codes and application procedures.

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