County approves draft EAW for mixed-use business parkPublic comment period now open
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
A draft Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for a proposed business park and housing development is now open for public comment after being accepted by the Carlton County Board on Tuesday. The EAW will pave the way for platting of the 212-acre site in rural Carlton, purchased by the county for $800,000 in 2004.
The draft EAW was presented to the county planning commission last Wednesday. According to Pat Oman, Carlton County economic development director, one resident of Olsonville was present at the meeting to voice concern over the proximity of the business/residential park’s entrance road to the quiet residential neighborhood adjoining the proposed development. Oman said matters of speed, safety and sound pollution were discussed, and he felt confident that all concerns were addressed.
At the conclusion of its meeting, the planning commission recommended approval of the EAW and passed it along for consideration by the county board at its regular meeting this week.
The county prepared the EAW for the project with assistance from Short Elliot Hendrickson (SEH), an engineering firm from Duluth contracted with the county to help guide the development process of the project. The EAW is a document designed to provide a brief analysis and overview of the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project.
According to the document, the county proposes to provide access roads, internal roads and utility infrastructure for the mixed-use site, located near I-35 and Highway 210. The county would also provide lots for future development of industrial and residential uses, including six 10-acre light-industrial lots, 15 multi-family lots and 28 single-family lots.
The lots along the northern part of the parcel would allow for light industrial and manufacturing-type business and the lots along the center and southern part would be for residential and park land.
Utilities would be installed to service the development area, and two-lane (24-foot-wide) roadways would be constructed from adjoining highways, including Highway 210 and County Road 61.
In all, some 26.87 acres of the development site would be graded or excavated for roads and utilities. The balance of the excavation would take place to the extent necessary to develop the individual lots.
The EAW further outlines the plan for a sanitary sewer collection system to be extended into the site from the existing Twin Lakes Township sanitary sewer, which connects to the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District collection system along Highway 210. Power and telecommunication lines would also be extended through the site to service the lots. At an undetermined time in the future, municipal water may also be extended into the site in order to service all of the lots.
Construction of the roadways and sanitary and storm sewer and utilities are tentatively planned for two phases, the first of which will provide access from County Road 61 and a northern roadway during the 2013 construction season. The second phase is planned for construction in 2015 and would consist of providing an access road from Highway 210, a railroad crossing and a roadway to service the residential lots.
Among other points of interest, the EAW states there is no significant impact on air quality expected as a result of the development, and approximately .65 acres of wetlands will require investigation. Some of the planned residential lots on the southern border of the site are within 300 feet of Otter Creek, a trout stream which is identified in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Protected Waters inventory. Individual development in these areas would need to obtain a zoning permit for proposed structures.
Further information detailed in the EAW states the total average daily traffic generated by the development is estimated to be 4,332 trips after the full build-out of the project is completed. The information in the EAW acknowledged that some degree of odor, noise and dust may be created during the construction period, all of which are expected to be mitigated through various controls and limiting the hours of construction.
The EAW states that two archaeological sites and one historic site have been documented within one mile of the project, though not on the actual site itself. The Fond du Lac Band indicated the possibility that a historic Native American trail may have existed through the property, but no indication of that trail has yet been located.
No visual impacts are expected to result from the proposed project itself, though future development of the industrial lots may create some visual impacts that would have to be regulated by county zoning restrictions.
In the EAW’s summary of cumulative impacts, the document states “additional development within the site will likely occur as a result of the proposed project, with possible associated environmental impacts,” adding that those potential future impacts are “not anticipated to be adverse.”
Following the public comment period on the project’s EAW, the county board will make a final decision as to whether to proceed as planned. If they do, Oman said the platting of the development would likely begin before the end of the year, at which time the conceptual design becomes permanent. If the project receives the go ahead, he said, construction is slated to get under way in 2013.
The EAW now moves on to the 30-day public comment period for all public and private entities to provide input on the environmental impacts of the proposed development. Copies of the EAW are available through Oman, who can be contacted at the Carlton County Courthouse at 218-384-9597, or online at www.co.carlton.mn.us.