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December 14, 2018

11/22/2018 11:44:00 AM
No need for EIS on Town's Edge, North Branch says

North Branch council voted 5-0 last week to declare there is no need for an Environmental Impact Statement, for the huge new neighborhood proposed south of town called Town’s Edge.  

Engineering presented the Environmental Assessment Worksheet to the council,   whose members were convinced there is no additional environmental  concern to be addressed by ordering a more in-depth Environmental Impact Statement.
Town’s Edge (see story Press October 11) is 165 acres to be developed by Graphic Homes of North Branch, with access off County Hwy. 30,  approximately at 377th and 375th.  

There are 371 housing units in the plat, a mix of townhomes, single family, etc. A city park is proposed in the central area of the development.

Council member Kelly Neider said she feels Graphic Homes is “reputable” among area builders, and she trusts them to do a good project.

Wetland concerns continue to be addressed, as identified in the EAW they remain unresolved.  About five acres of wetland faces direct impact,  to be “avoided and minimized” as recommended by the county and state natural resources agencies who enforce wetland act rules.  There is a county ditch system on the site where the buffer under new state law is 16.5 feet.  The future parcels will need to be laid out to allow for this, it was noted in EAW comments listed.  The county also recommends turn lanes into the new neighborhood, from #30.

A Viking gasline crosses the property and is another challenge the developer faces.

The EAW comment period ended October 24.  The EAW was mandatory due to the number of units being planned.  Council only decides if the worksheet questions were addressed, the remedies and exact on-site best management practices are worked out as permits are applied for.

Council member Kathy Blomquist made note of the protected hognose snakes and Blandings turtles habitat to be worked around on this site.   Council member Kelly Nieder scoffed that protecting snakes is not something at the top of most peoples’ list.  WSB Engineer Shawn Williams responded that they are protected species important to the comprehensive state ecosystem,  and the city has to follow the rules.

Council’s “negative declaration” allows the process to continue towards permit stages.

The parade route for “Light Up the Night” the city’s Holiday event Saturday, December 1 was authorized.  Elm Street will be closed to traffic for the evening parade, between 2nd to Central Park.  Tree lighting is at the park at 6:30 p.m. or when the parade ends.

And, city hall reduces its hours for the holidays this year.  

Council okayed closing city hall and not answering phones from noon-on,   December 26, 27 and 28.  City Administrator renae Fry said these are typically pretty quiet days anyway and staff will be able to do what is needed from 8 a.m. to noon.  To reach law enforcement, because no city hall phones are being answered on these shortened days-- call the communications center non-emergency line 651-257-4100.

~ A little used gravel road,  415th west of Keystone, is becoming a dumping site and off-roading favorite;  so public works asked the city if a gate could be erected and the road posted.  The council okayed closing 415th.  The residents affected will be able to use the road and the city staff will contact them and work out access.

At the end of the meeting Mayor Kirsten Hagen Kennedy read a brief essay that recognized the achievements of the state champions Viking volleyball squad and its affects on building community. 

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