has taken another step forward.
Contra Costa County planners have approved the developer's application for the New Farm project and have started the environmental review process.
An environmental impact report will be prepared by CirclePoint at a cost of $345,000.
The project must be approved by the Contra Costa County Planning Commission as well as the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors.
County principal planner Patrick Roche said a general plan amendment, a rezoning and a subdivision map must be approved, which will take "many months."
The New Farm project is being developed by FT Land, LLC.
It calls for 177 single-family homes and 10 multi-family units on 771 acres along Camino Tassajara just east and southeast of Blackhawk.
The homes would be clustered and take up less than 10 percent of the property. The rest would be open space and agricultural land.
Included on the property would be community gardens, a community center and staging area for related trails, a cemetery/memorial park and related mortuary, a roadside farm stand, an agricultural learning annex to serve local students, a worship facility and a fire-training facility.
There are also plans for olive orchards and an olive-oil processing facility.
The plan has been criticized by environmental groups such as Save Mount Diablo and the Greenbelt Alliance. They say the project is too large for a rural area and will encourage development in the region.
FT Land officials have called their development an "innovative land use plan."