The potential environmental effects of the St. Thomas proposal to redevelop two Summit Avenue blocks "are not considered significant," according to a new report prepared for the city of St. Paul.
Further review in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement "is not needed," says the draft Record of Decision for the Revised Environmental Assessment Worksheet, which was released Jan. 21.
"The revised project is generally compatible with surrounding institutional and residential development and is in compliance with the city’s Comprehensive Plan, including the Summit Avenue Plan," says the 125-page report. "The impacts are relatively predictable and do not pose significant concerns in terms of long-term effects."
The report will be considered Wednesday by the Neighborhood and Current Planning Committee of the St. Paul Planning Commission and then on Feb. 13 by the full commission. Its recommendation on the issue will be forwarded to Martha Fuller, director of the St. Paul Planning and Economic Development Department, who will decide if the Revised EAW adequately identifies the project’s environmental impacts or if further review is needed in the form of an EIS. Her decision can be appealed only in Ramsey County District Court.
Neither the report nor its approval by Fuller would constitute city approval of the project. The report, prepared for the city by URS Inc. of Minneapolis, only identifies environmental impacts and potential mitigation measures for policymakers who will decide whether the project can move forward.
Three additional reviews will be conducted this winter and spring:
St. Thomas has been involved with environmental reviews on the two-block site for nearly three years. The first EAW, completed in October 2001, examined St. Thomas’ plans to construct four academic buildings, student housing and underground parking. Work began last summer on the Revised EAW to reflect project changes, including only two academic buildings (on the east block) and additional student housing (on the west block).