Environmental Assessment Worksheets/Environmental Impact Statements
In some cases, a development project may meet mandatory thresholds to require further review prior to approval. There are three programs with which the City of Minneapolis must comply.
Minnesota Environmental Review Program
The Minnesota Environmental Review Program requires that environmental reviews be completed for projects which exceed certain thresholds that deal with size and with the nature of the project (e.g. large commercial, residential or industrial projects; hazardous waste facilities; and projects that impact historic resources). In most cases, the law requires the city to be responsible for the environmental review for projects located within Minneapolis. The law defines the content and scope of the review and the process and timeline for its completion.
The purpose of the environmental review is to disclose the potential environmental impacts of the project and identify ways to avoid or minimize them. Permitting agencies, including the city, rely on this information for their permitting decisions. The environmental review program has no authority of its own to require any response to the environmental effects disclosed, no matter how significant. It is left to the regulating authorities to implement the mitigative measures identified in the environmental review.
The three most common state reviews are the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW), and the Alternative Urban Areawide Review (AUAR). The EIS is a very thorough study of the potential environmental effects of the project and of reasonable alternatives to the project. An EAW is a much briefer review that is intended to screen projects that may have the potential for significant environmental effects. If the EAW leads to the conclusion that a project may pose significant environmental risks, then an EIS must be prepared as well. The AUAR is a substitute form of review that blends the requirements of the EAW and the EIS. It merges the scope of an EAW with a level of detail that is closer to an EIS. Like an EIS, the AUAR includes alternative scenarios and a very specific mitigation plan.
Environmental Review Thresholds: The following describes the thresholds for a mandatory EAW and EIS for certain project uses (refer to Minn. Rules at 4410. 4300 and 4410.4400 for other uses):
Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (gross square feet):
Warehouse and light industrial
Industrial, commercial, and institutional
Residential (dwelling units):
Federal Environmental Review Program, the Environmental Assessment
Like the state program, the purpose of the federal Environmental Assessment is to disclose the potential environmental impacts of a project that uses federal funds, and identify ways to avoid or minimize those impacts. Federal law delegates the review responsibility to the city for most projects located within the city.
Travel Demand Management Plans
Transportation accounts for more than half of the air pollution and a significant amount of the soil and water pollution nationally. Travel demand management (TDM) plans serve as important tools for the city to minimize the polluting impacts of transportation. The city’s zoning code requires non-residential developments of over 100,000 square feet to submit a TDM plan for approval by the Planning Director. TDM plans must disclose the expected transportation impacts and detail a mitigation plan. Since 1997, the City has stepped up its efforts to negotiate stronger TDM plans from major projects.
Mitigation measures to be considered include the following:
- Periodic survey of transportation behaviors and desires of the building users (completed generally every two years).
- Periodic status reports (generally every two years).
- Subsidies for users of the alternatives to the single-occupant vehicle (e.g. transit, car and vanpools, bicycles, and walking).
- On-site transit facilities and transit pass sales.
- Construction of downtown skyways.
- Preferential siting of car and vanpool stalls.
- On-site facilities for bicycle storage and for showers and lockers.
- Tenant communication and education programs focusing on the alternatives to the single-occupant vehicle.
- Creation of flextime and telecommuting opportunities.
- Currie Park Lofts
- Dock Street Residential (pdf)
- DeLasalle School Athletic Field
- Eitel Hospital (Loring Park)
- Eclipse Development
- Pillsbury A Mill complex
- 520/521 2nd Street
- Phoenix Lofts
- Nicollet Hotel Block (pdf)
- City of Lakes Condominiums (pdf)
- Bennett Lumber
- Bennett Lumber (2011) (pdf)
- Pacific Block
- 602 1st Street North
- The Wave (304-320 1st St. S)
Last updated May. 7, 2013