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Great Lakes Article:

Lighthouse Point EAW questioned
Comment period ends Jan. 19
By Forrest Johnson
Lake County News-Chronicle
Published January 6th, 2005

An Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) is supposed to help clear up questions regarding the environmental impacts of a proposed construction project or development. But according to comments by several speakers at Tuesday night’s Lighthouse Point EAW public hearing, the document has raised more questions than it has answered.
The worksheet was prepared by Krech Ojard Engineering on behalf of Ed Cave and Sons, Inc. The company proposes to build condominiums in the area between the Two Harbors water plant and the wastewater facility.

The EAW was requested after a petition was presented to the city council by Operation Lighthouse Shield, a group that has organized to watchdog any proposed development on Lighthouse Point.

The 10.54-acre parcel is zoned I-2 Industrial and must be rezoned to MUW, Mixed-Use Waterfront, before the proposed condominiums could be built. Developer Sam Cave requested the rezone, along with the conditional use permit that MUW zoning requires.

South Avenue resident Todd Ronning laid out a host of concerns regarding the EAW, saying the document raised questions about height restrictions for the proposed condominiums, setback issues and impacts on viewsheds for nearby residents. Ronning indicated that views from his property would be restricted to 5 percent of what they are currently, differing from the estimates found in the EAW.

Ronning also pointed at what he felt was overly-optimistic information in the EAW about water runoff, erosion and sedimentation estimates that would result from the project.

“It claims water will be cleaner or as clean, that’s mumbo jumbo,” Ronning said.

He asked that the project be looked at in terms of the cumulative impacts of “the host of waterfront development projects poised” in the area, and to consider a more stringent look at the proposal, suggesting an Alternative Urban-wide Area Review (AUAR).

Jamie Juenemann of Silver Creek Township questioned the quality of the EAW and pointed out that Krech Ojard Engineering has done work on the proposed project for Ed Cave and Sons, and suggested a potential conflict of interest existed.

“Krech Ojard stands to benefit from a glossed-over document, glossed-over environmental concerns,” he said.

Juenemann also pointed out that the EAW lacked a significant look into the potential contamination that exists on the site, which had significant industrial use over the past century, including uses such as coal storage, tar tank and coal crushing for the former city-owned power plant that existed.

Resident Glenn Johnson pointed to concerns over buffer zones for the project and focused on water quality issues he felt weren’t addressed well enough in the EAW.

“What goes into the water, we drink,” he said.

Resident Brett Archer felt the EAW didn’t adequately address traffic safety issues that could arise with the additional number of cars per day expected along 1st Street (Park Road). Traffic to the proposed development would access the site via 1st Avenue.

Adrienne Falcon of Finland spoke on behalf of the North Shore Watershed Watch, a loose-knit group working to watchdog development and watershed issues that affect Lake Superior. Falcon said the EAW didn’t address cumulative impacts of ongoing development along the Lake Superior coast, nor did it address issues regarding past and present pollutants in the area.

She said the EAW indicated that the only chemical tested for was arsenic and asked if others would be tested for. Falcon asked if the discovery of other contaminants could impact development of the proposed project. She also addressed issues regarding the amount of impervious surfaces on the site, the impact of an additional 18,000 gallons of wastewater per day and light pollution.

She asked the commission and the city council to respect the waterfront planning process that is underway and also requested the need for an AUAR.

When reached later, Jeff Heller, civil department manager for Krech Ojard, said that the comment period, and the comments, were all a part of the process.

“We drafted the EAW and submitted it for comment,” he said. “After the period is up, we’ll respond to the comments that are there. We’re following the process.”

The 30-day written comment period ends Jan. 19. Responses to comments have to be approved by the city council by Feb. 14, and can be used to help determine whether more a more extensive EIS or AUAR should be required before any rezoning decisions are made.

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