May 3 to Zoning Committee

To: Zoning and Planning Committee
From: West Calhoun Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee
Date: May 3, 2018
Re: Environmental Assessment Worksheet on the Calhoun Towers development, 3430 List Place (RCA-2018-00463)

The West Calhoun Neighborhood Council is disappointed to have received no reply to its list of deficiencies found in the Environmental Assessment Worksheet, which it emailed to the City Planning Commission on April 11. Rather than reiterate the list, we would like to highlight our key concerns.

First is the status of the Southwest Light Rail line. The EAW is based on the assumption that it will be operational by 2023. While our Council has gone on record in support of this line, we are not confident about the timetable given the continuing lawsuit by project opponents and the uncertainty of adequate federal funding until the latest construction bids are reviewed. The EAW should address the impacts and suitability of this project in scenarios that do not include access to light rail, or include light rail at a later date than 2023.

Second is water quality. The report notes that as a result of unpermitted dumping on the site, the soil is polluted by metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including benzoapyrene above the Minnesota Department of Health’s health risk limits. This is a particular concern because the EAW states that groundwater on the site flows to Bde Maka Ska, part of the Chain of Lakes regional park and a popular lake for fishing. We believe that the EAW does not adequately address the need for further study and remediation to protect the lake, nor does it adequately demonstrate that the project does not have the potential for significant environmental impacts.

Third, the Travel Demand Management Plan is inadequate. Besides failing to address the risk of light rail not being built, it has an untested strategy with a leisurely timetable. Travel Demand Management Measure 25 states that “All TDMP commitments will be implemented (if applicable) within one year after the certificate of occupancy is issued for Phase IV of the development.”This means that not all commitments need to be implemented until perhaps 2026 even if the project is built according to the 5-7 year time frame. Without an adequate Travel Demand Management Plan the project runs the risk of creating an unacceptable increase in automobile use as vehicles circle looking for street parking. The Trip Generation Analysis in Appendix D fails to consider scenarios in which either light rail is not operational on schedule or the Travel Demand Management Plan does not achieve its objectives.

Fourth and last, compliance with Minneapolis Plan Housing Policy 3.3 “Increase Housing that is affordable to low and moderate income households” is ignored. In fact, the project would contribute nothing to meeting the City’s affordable housing needs until Phase IV is built and would then provide for only 25 affordable units out of a total of 857 (2.9%).

We request that the EAW not be found adequate until these and other issues cited in our list of April 11 are adequately addressed.