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Press

Greenfield Apartments and Raspberry Woods File Lawsuit Against Met Council

Curt

Suit: Southwest light-rail project too noisy for 1,000 residents in Hopkins, Minnetonka

An owner of three complexes near the route says the Met Council hasn't properly addressed the issue. 

By Paul Walsh Star Tribune

MAY 18, 2016 — 10:28PM

DAVID JOLES, STAR TRIBUNE

 

The owner of property with about 500 apartment and townhouse units in the west metro is suing the Metropolitan Council, saying the agency has not addressed the “severe noise problem” the Southwest light rail project would create.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in St. Paul on behalf of three adjoining and jointly owned complexes — two in Hopkins and one in Minnetonka — contends that the council’s recently released environmental impact statement “failed to recognize” the high levels of noise that the trains would create while passing so closely to homes and their woods, wetlands, walking paths and recreational areas.

As proposed, the $1.79 billion extension of the Green Line would run within 125 feet of apartments, less than 50 feet from recreational amenities and less than 30 feet from meeting facilities, the owner of the Greenfield Apartments and Raspberry Woods Townhomes in Hopkins and the Deer Ridge Townhomes in Minnetonka contends.

The 1,000 or so people who live on the complex’s 66 acres just west of Hwy. 169 and north of Hwy. 62 enjoy “a parklike setting,” the suit states.

Met Council spokeswoman Kate Brickman said in a statement that the agency “feels confident that there’s just not a case. We have had numerous correspondences and meetings with the property owner and made design adjustments to avoid possible noise impacts. The noise assessment in the [environmental impact statement] … does not identify a potential noise impact to the property.”

Brickman’s statement went on to note that the property owner has been seeking to have a station positioned nearby, but “that is not part of the current project, despite their attempts to lobby the city of Hopkins and us to include one.”

The plaintiffs are asking that the court require the Met Council to review the effect of noise from the light-rail line and undertake whatever reduction actions would be necessary to reach “acceptable residential levels.” The federal environmental impact statement issued Friday by the Federal Transit Administration “provides no noise mitigation” for the group of housing complexes, the suit contends.

In a statement, property owner Stuart Co. said it has made “tireless efforts to work with the Met Council [and] has no choice but to begin protecting its residents and rights with beginning the legal process. The noise pollution levels for this section of SWLRT deserve serious review.”

The 14.5-mile line, connecting downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie, is slated to begin service in 2020.

LPA Wins Right to Review Met Council Correspondence

Curt

 

www.startribune.com/opponents-of-southwest-route-win-in-quest-for-met-council-docs/364918051/

This morning Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau decided that the Met Council does have to provide LPA the information we requested to move our lawsuit ahead.

As you know, the Met Council had asked the court for a protective order, which would have prohibited us from conducting any discovery until after the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is completed and the Record of Decision (ROD) is issued. 

But Judge Rau denied their request, interpreting Judge Tunheim’s August order as effectively requesting the very information we seek.

If the Met Council decides to appeal Judge Rau’s decision to Judge Tunheim, they have 15 days to do so. If Judge Tunheim upholds Judge Rau's decision, the Met Council will have 15 days from the date of his ruling in which to provide us the information we ask for.

As noted earlier, our attorneys, Lew Remele and Tom Johnson, are requesting documents from the Met Council that would shed light, to the satisfaction of Judge Tunheim, on whether any of the routes for SWLRT remain under consideration except for the co-location alternative through the Kenilworth Corridor. If no others are under consideration, the Met Council would be violating federal law. We believe, for example, that communications between the Met Council and the TC&W Railroad, and between the Met Council and the municipalities along the proposed SWLRT route might be relevant in this regard.

The obvious public policy question one must ask at this point is: What is the Met Council trying so strenuously to hide from the public, and why? 

Kudos to our very lucid, well-prepared, competent attorneys!

Kudos and a million thanks to you, as well, for persisting in your support of this important battle in defense of the lakes and parks of Minneapolis!

SWLRT Foes Seek Met Council Records to Bolster Court Fight

Curt

http://www.startribune.com/swlrt-foes-seek-met-council-records-to-bolster-court-fight/364003091/#comments

Magistrate Judge Rau will hear arguments on the Met Council’s motion for a protective order, which would prohibit LPA (us) from conducting any discovery until after the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is completed and the Record of Decision (ROD) is issued. 

Background

LPA served our initial discovery requests on the Met Council in early October, almost three months ago. We asked for various types of documents that we believe may establish, to the satisfaction of Judge Tunheim, that, in violation of federal law, none of the routes for the SWLRT remain under consideration except for the co-location alternative through the Kenilworth Corridor. For example, we believe that communications between the Met Council and the TC&W Railroad might be relevant in this regard, as well as communications between the Met Council and the municipalities along the proposed SWLRT route.

 The Met Council filed its opposition to these requests just a few days ago, on December 28. We responded with our own brief Monday, January 4, pointing out that the Court has already twice rejected the Met Council argument that LPA must wait until the ROD has been issued before challenging the environmental review process. Judge Tunheim has written that LPA is presently entitled to bring a National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) lawsuit since a state actor (the Met Council) may be taking action that will have eviscerated any post-ROD remedy that LPA might seek through the Administrative Procedure Act.

 We are asking Magistrate Judge Rau to deny the motion for a protective order and to expedite discovery to make up for lost time.

SPEAK FOR THE TREES! Join us Saturday, Nov. 7 10:30am-12:00pm for a GREEN RIBBON TYING CEREMONY around some of the thousands of urban trees that will be deforested for the coming of SWLRT.

Curt

Children and Adults Will “Speak for the Trees”

IN THE FACE OF MET COUNCIL PLAN TO CLEAR-CUT URBAN FOREST

OCTOBER 26, 2015, MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. / Twin City tree-lovers of all ages are invited to help demonstrate the effect of the Met Council’s proposed destruction of 44 acres of Minneapolis urban forest at

Speak for the Trees Day
Kenilworth Corridor (behind
2512 Upton Ave South) Saturday, November 7
10:30 to noon; Reading of
The Lorax at 11:00
Free warm cider and cookies

Participants will dramatize the magnitude of the proposed clear-cutting by tying green ribbons around thousands of trees the Met Council would destroy to make way for the proposed Southwest LRT. The number of trees to be cut down — 5,000 of them fully mature — would dwarf the number lost in the catastrophic summer solstice storm of 2013.

Families are encouraged to bring children to the event, which will feature music, and cider and cookies donated by Barbette restaurant. There will be a reading from The Lorax, Dr. Seuss’s beloved story about the plight of the environment and the Lorax, who speaks for the trees against the Once-ler, who wants to cut them down. A celebrity reader has been invited.

Speak for the Trees Day is sponsored by the Lakes and Parks Alliance of Minneapolis, a grassroots organization opposed to routing light rail through the environmentally sensitive Chain of Lakes area.

Light rail is often described as an environmentally preferred mode of transportation. But clear- cutting Minneapolis’ largest urban forest would significantly and permanently damage Minneapolis air quality. Each year, a single acre of trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced by driving a car 26,000 miles, according to the Arbor Environmental Alliance. The loss of 44 acres of trees in the Kenilworth Corridor would mean they would no longer be there to absorb, annually, the amount of CO2 produced by cars driving 1.14 million miles. The area designated for clear-cutting is also habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, turtles, geese and ducks, loons, egrets, herons, owls, and lately, eagles.

“The Met Council’s plan to destroy Minneapolis’ largest urban forest flies in the face of the urgent, worldwide movement to preserve trees,” said George Puzak, an LPA board member. “Clear-cutting of forests is known to contribute to global warming. We think the Met Council should choose a more environmentally friendly route for light rail.”

The event site, behind 2512 Upton Av. S., can be reached from the corner of Upton and Sheridan west of Lake of the Isles; or by a two-block walk from Cedar Lake Parkway near Cedar Lake South Beach. Directional signs will be posted. 

Read More

SW LRT: Skipping Minneapolis for the Suburbs

lakes and parks alliance

MPR News  A stop-by-stop look at Southwest LRT     Laura Yuen May 16, 2014, 7:03 AM11

Who would be the heaviest users of Southwest light rail?

Hunt for the big globs in the map. Projections by the Metropolitan Council show that the line would be most popular with people traveling to and from select stations in Eden Prairie, Hopkins and St. Louis Park. The opposite is true for the three stops that skirt the edge of north Minneapolis, represented by the teeniest of dots.

Read More

Kenilworth Corridor in the News:

Curt

Mark Dayton Letter on SWLRT

Click here for letter

Jordana Green of WCCO Radio 830 speaks with Stuart A Chazin Chair of KPG on June 26, 2013 regarding Kenilworth Corridor (Interview starts at the 18 minute mark)

Click Here for Interview

Jay Kolls of KSTP TV interviews Stuart A Chazin Chair of KPG on July 2, 2013 regarding Kenilworth Corridor

http://kstp.com/news/stories/S3086810.shtml?cat=1

Light rail will ruin a quiet area (StarTribune)

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/183436091.html?refer=y
By, Steven R. Goldsmith is a cardiologist at Hennepin County Medical Center and has lived in the Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis for more than 25 years.

Don’t run Southwest light-rail through Chain of Lakes

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/214426351.html

Steven R. Goldsmith’s Letter to Gail Dorfman

http://kenilworthpreservationgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Steven-Goldsmith-letter-to-Gail-Dorfman.pdf

A well-deserved award for Minneapolis parks

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/210649121.html