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
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.