Sacramento County Supervisors approved a 2,700 acre development on the eastern edge of the county despite widespread concern about the project causing sprawl and pollution.
Following a hearing that lasted more than five hours Tuesday, supervisors voted 4-1 to amend its General Plan and allow Cordova Hills to build up to 8,000 housing units off of Grant Line Road next to Rancho Cordova.
Supervisor Phil Serna said he could not overlook the project's expected environmental problems when the developer has not followed through on a promise to secure a university for the project.
"I have yet to hear from anyone in these chambers why this is a good project to do right now," Serna said. "What is really driving the need to do this now?"
After Serna's remarks, Supervisor Susan Peters said she supported the project because she considers it "smart growth" and it will help the region attract a university.
Developer Ron Alvarado, who earlier lost university that planned to build at Cordova Hills, said he will continue to work to attract another one.
He also made an agreement pay for the initial infrastructure costs for a university, to keep land set aside for one, and to give the county the land should he fail to attract one.