EAW accepted for proposed housing development on an area of Lake Willie
LITCHFIELD -- The Meeker County Board accepted an environmental assessment worksheet Tuesday for a proposed housing development on Lake Willie. The county received three comments on the worksheet from government agencies that addressed possible i...
LITCHFIELD -- The Meeker County Board accepted an environmental assessment worksheet Tuesday for a proposed housing development on Lake Willie.
The county received three comments on the worksheet from government agencies that addressed possible impacts of the project and the permits the developer will need to obtain.
The board will need to decide whether to require an environmental impact statement. The board and county staff will gather findings to help reach that decision and address the issue at its Nov. 15 meeting. An environmental impact statement is an indepth study of certain environmental issues that usually takes a year to complete.
The proposed development, called Shorewood Acres, is 22 single-family dwellings on 64 acres of property abutting Lake Willie. The developer, Neil Jensen, requested a zoning change there from an A-1 Agricultural Preservation District to a R-1 Suburban Residential District.
Citizens petitioned for the environmental assessment worksheet, which looks at potential environmental effects of a proposed project.
The developer owns a total of 139 acres on the northwest side of Lake Willie, which is south of Litchfield near Greenleaf. Eleven of the 22 homes would be adjacent to Lake Willie. Each lot would have its own well and septic system.
Lake Willie has been considered a Recreational Development Lake under county zoning, but changes the County Board approved to its shoreland management ordinance Tuesday means it will now be classified as a Natural Environment Lake.
A Natural Environment Lake is generally a small, shallow lake with limited capacity for the impacts of development and recreational use and little existing development or surface water recreational use, according to the ordinance. There is one public access on Lake Willie and three residences within 400 feet of the lake.
Despite the new classification, a planned unit development like Shorewood Acres is still a conditional use as it was under the Recreational Development Lake category.
The state Department of Natural Resources raised concerns in a letter about the project's affect on wildlife with the removal the CRP land and how the development will affect the natural vegetation on the shoreland. It also recommended that the potential for over-fishing be assessed. The DNR letter said the proposed Lot 7 is "almost entirely wetland" and that the environmental assessment worksheet does not examine the suitability of that lot for building.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture suggested in a letter that the county provide the development's residents with information about living near farm operations. The department said a housing development near existing feedlots is likely to result in complaints about farm operations' odor, dust, noise and hours.
Matt Johnson of the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission reviewed the comments with the board and said he would be responding to them with a letter that the board would sign.
In other business, the board:
- Approved an amendment to its smoke-free workplace ordinance. The amendment allows a business to apply for an exemption if the "unintentional destruction of the premise" prevented the owner from applying for one by the deadline.
Under the ordinance, businesses with valid liquor licenses qualified for an exemption from the smoking ban until Aug. 1, 2007. All other workplaces went smoke-free Oct. 1.
- Agreed to provide up to $80,000 to help extend the Lake Koronis recreation trail in the northern part of the county. Stearns County, the city of Paynesville and Paynesville Township also will be asked to contribute that amount to the project, and Meeker County's allocation is contingent on their participation.