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Environmental Assessment Worksheets moving forward

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A daunting three-inch thick Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the Afton Center project was placed in front of the Afton City Council at its council workshop meeting Dec. 2.

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City engineer John Parotti, along with his assistant George Johnson, spent the next two hours giving a brief overview of what the 500-page document entails.

"The effort of today is to make the council more comfortable with the document in front of you," Johnson said. "This doesn't make any decision, it doesn't stop any decision, this is just an aid."

Johnson informed the council that the purpose of compiling the EAW was because of a citizen petition that was filed about two years ago requesting an EAW due to concerns about the project.

The Afton Center project concerns a proposal by the company GJ&M, who is responsible for one of the lawsuits against Afton, to construct 48 luxury condo units and 12 retail spaces over three city blocks in downtown Afton.

The EAW is divided into 30 sections, detailing the different effects a project like this will have on the environment and the community.

The first 50 pages of the document is the primary document, as it gives overviews and details of all 30 questions that are required to be answered. The remainder of the EAW includes numerous appendices that accompany the initial summaries, such as maps, tables, graphs, and other types of supplemental information.

In total, the EAW details the project facts, such as location, the magnitude, required permits, and zoning requirements. The EAW then continues detailing the effects the project will have on such areas as, water resources, soil, traffic, air quality, visual impacts, historical and architectural impacts, infrastructure, any and all other potential environmental impacts.

Council members raised some questions about missing information and organization of the EAW; all of these concerns will be identified and addressed prior to the EAW being presented again to the Council on Dec. 8.

"You are the decision makers, you have to be comfortable with it," Johnson said. "You have another bite at the apple when you are reissued the draft EAW."

The special meeting was primarily scheduled since council member Joe Richter was unable to attend the Dec. 2 meeting.

"We'll meet back here and continue the book club," Mayor Julia Welter said.

Once the council is comfortable with the contents of the EAW, the EAW will go to publication for public comment and then a pubic hearing will be held.

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
(651) 702-0976
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