Environmental Petition Delays City Council's TCGIS Decisions
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 9:40 AM

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A Saint Paul City Council decision on the site plan and zoning variances for Twin Cities German Immersion School is being delayed until city staff determine whether a formal environmental review is necessary for the school’s proposed building addition.

Roy Neal, a leader in the preservation group Save Historic Saint Andrews, filed a citizen petition with the State of Minnesota on Feb. 22, requesting that an Environmental Awareness Worksheet be required for the project. Josh Williams, a principal planner with the city’s Department of Planning and Economic Development, says state rules prohibit the city from taking final action on any zoning applications until all environmental reviews are completed.

The City Council was scheduled to hear two zoning appeals on the school project on Wednesday, March 6. The separate appeals – one by the District 10 Como Community Council, the other by Save Historic Saint Andrews – challenge decisions by the city’s Planning Commission. Under state law, the commission’s decisions would have allowed the school’s original site plan to go into effect automatically on March 6; the school’s original variance request would have gone into effect automatically on March 26. However, City Council staff say that, as a result of the citizen petition, the state-imposed timeline for the city to act on the site plan and variance requests would start over, once the environmental review process is complete.

The citizen petition seeking an Environmental Awareness Worksheet argues that the school’s building plans would create four environmental impacts: the demolition of the former St. Andrew’s church building; increased traffic and safety concerns in the surrounding residential neighborhood; increased noise levels from more pupils and traffic; and an increase in net carbon production. The petition contains 126 signatures; more than 80 percent of the signers, like Neal, live outside of District 10. You can view a copy of the petition (not including the supporting exhibits) in the PDF in the right column.

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