City Says There's No Need for Environmental Review of TCGIS Site
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 10:45 AM


Saint Paul staff say an Environmental Assessment Worksheet is not required or needed for Twin Cities German Immersion School’s proposed construction project, which would include demolition of the former St. Andrew’s church building.

The April 9 decision, by the city’s Department of Planning and Economic Development, clears the way for the City Council to vote on whether to give the former church building local historical designation, which the local preservation group Save Historic St. Andrew’s is seeking. That process takes place on four Wednesdays in May, with a public hearing tentatively scheduled for May 15 and the City Council vote on May 22. The April 9 decision also clears the way for the City Council to vote on the zoning variances and a construction site plan the school needs for its proposed building expansion. That vote is tentatively scheduled for June 5.

Roy Neal, a leader with the preservation group, had filed a citizen’s petition with the State of Minnesota on Feb. 22, seeking an EAW (download a PDF of the full citizen’s petition from the right column). The state’s Environmental Quality Board deferred a decision to the city. In responding to points raised in the citizen's peition, city staff say:

  • The school’s building project does not meet the state standards for a mandatory environment review and does not have “the potential for significant environmental effects” that would support a discretionary environmental review.
  • The school’s building project, at less than 25,000 square feet, is exempt from the state’s environmental review requirements, which kick in only for institutional projects of at least 100,000 square feet.
  • Although the former church building is considered eligible for a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, it is not on the national registry, which means an environmental review is not required. If the building is granted local historical designation, the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission or City Council could mitigate impacts, including banning demolition.
  • There is “no meaningful way” to estimate the impact on carbon emissions from demolition and construction activities at the school site, but that the impacts are likely to be “of an extent and type replicated many times annually just within the City of Saint Paul.”
  • Other concerns raised by the citizen’s petition – such as traffic, safety, and noise impacts of the school’s expansion – are being addressed and can be mitigated further by routine city regulatory actions.

(Download a PDF of the full city staff report from the right column.)

Originally published April 10, 2019; updated April 15.

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