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Industrial / Kings Forest / Birch Island District Issues

September 29, 2007
EP PLANNING COMMISSION DENIES REQUEST THAT WOULD ALLOW DOG CAY-CARE OPERATION

On September 24, 2007, the Eden Prairie Planning Commission unanimously rejected a request for a variance to permit a dog day care center at the business center at Edenvale and Carlson Drive. If approved, the facility would have been permitted to include an outdoor fenced area for the dogs in a front yard set back. Approximately twenty people from the Kings Forest neighborhood attended the public hearing to express their opposition to the project. A number of people in the group are Friends of Birch Island Woods and Aggregate Action volunteers. Referring to the large crowd, Ned Hirschler wrote in an email that “it really helped sway the commission's vote.”

MIDWEST ASPHALT / AGGREGATE TRANSER STATION ISSUES

December 2, 2007
COMPANY LOOKS FOR ANOTHER LOCATION FOR AGGREGATE TRANSFER STATION
We’ve been informed by friends in Carver County that the E.G. Everist company has an option to buy property east of Cologne and hopes of constructing an aggregate transfer facility on the north side of Highway 212 alongside the Twin Cities and Western Railroad. The operation would offload various grades of crushed rock from trains onto trucks.

The Eversist Company had intended to install a similar facility in Eden Prairie that would serve Midwest Asphalt. That proposed facility was never built. According to a source at Eden Prairie City Hall, Midwest Asphalt and E.G. Eversit never never reached an agreement for the transfer station. The mobile facility was to have been located on TCW RR right-a-way east of Indian Chief Road near Southwest Transit, Glen Lake Golf Course and Eden Wood.

August 2005
CITY COUNCIL APPROVES RAIL-TO-TRUCK AGGREGATE TRANSFER FACILITY. AGGREGATE ACTION TO TAKE ON A NEW MISSION UNDER A NEW BANNER

Aggregate Action representative Dave Spoor began his portion of the August 16 City Council Forum dramatically: He handed a plastic bag filled with aggregate to the City Council members saying that he had scooped up the sand-like material on his way to city hall. “This is what we’re talking about,” he said emphatically.

Mr. Spoor was joined during the approximately 25 minute long Council Forum by Jan Anderson, Duane Wharton and Eric Sandvik that was presided over by Mayor Nancy-Tyra Lukens. Anderson reviewed the reasons for prompting the formation of “Aggregate Action” -- ongoing “nuisance problems” with Midwest Asphalt and the city’s ineffective public notification procedures. She thanked Council Member Ron Case and Friends of Birch Island Woods’ Jeff Strate for helping residents of the Kings Forest and Birch Island neighborhood get a grasp on the proposed development and to respond to it on very short notice.

Mr. Spoor challenged the development proposal’s estimates of truck and rail road traffic and the amount of aggregate that would be brought on a yearly basis and questioned the legality of the city to approve the project given city codes. Mr. Spoor cited both his own review of city codes
and the opinion of Aggregate Action’s legal counsel, Tom Casey, a land use and environmental law attorney. Mr. Sandvik, a long time Eden Prairie resident and an attorney, also questioned the city’s legal grounds for approval during his bookend comments.

Click here to read Mr. Spoor’s open letter to the City Council

Before Mr. Sandvik made his comments, Mr. Wharton reviewed the chronology of the meetings and actions that Aggregate Action, the City, L.G. Everist and Midwest Asphalt had undertaken since the Council’s preliminary approval of the project on June 21.

Mr. Wharton also said that L.G. Everist and Midwest Asphalt have informally agreed to a number of operating conditions to reduce noise levels (see below) and requested that the city reform its public notification protocol. The Kings Forest neighborhood resident said that his group is eager to continue working with the city and the businesses and would rename itself as it works to build a liaison committee of residents, associations, agencies, businesses which would meet quarterly to discuss matters of mutual concern regarding the area. He mentioned Friendship Ventures which operates nearby Eden Wood Center for special needs children and Friends of Birch Island Woods as likely participants. In deed, a number of FBIW volunteers assisted Aggregate Action during the six weeks of its existence.

The 2nd reading of the proposal was discussed during city planner Mike Franzen’s report on the project to the City Council. City Attorney Ric Rosow, in reviewing legal issues about the matter, told the Council that his legal interpretation of Minnesota law and city code still holds that the L.G. Everist project is "a legal nonconforming use" of the property. Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens and Council Member Brad Aho both expressed appreciation for the positive course and respectful manner that the dialogue between residents, businesses and city had taken despite differing opinions.

City Council member Ron Case asked Mr. Rossow if comments from the residents could be made part of the public record and how the city might work with the businesses to support the informal operating agreements that were being crafted by Aggregate Action, Midwest Asphalt and L.G. Everist. Mr. Rossow answered that the non-televised Council Forum presentations do become part of the public record and that through the city permitting process, restrictions such as the operating hours of the business could be addressed. The City Council unanimously approved the project.
A fuller account of the proceedings will be available in the future.

Voluntary Operating Agreements

According to Aggregate Action’s Duane Wharton, L.G. Everist and Midwest Asphalt have informally agreed to a number of operating guide lines that would reduce noise cause by trucks and equipment in the transfer and shipment of aggregate materials and the recycling of old pavement and the manufacturing of asphalt.

L.G. Everist, has informally agreed to move operations inside a building when aggregate shipments reach 250,000 tons a year; will install quieter alarms on the Equipment the loading equipment it owns; will "look at" planting of trees outside the scope of its landscaping plan and perhaps with the permission of adjacent landowners including Southwest Metro Transit;
will participate in a community liaison committee which would include representatives from the businesses, residents, home owners association, units of government, agencies and Friends of Birch Island Woods; will make all efforts to unload RR cars after 9 am - this is dependent on TC&W RR and volumes

Midwest Asphalt, which owns the land upon which the facility will be operating has informally agreed to install quieter OSHA required alarms on some its equipment. Note: Some of these newer alarms have recently been installed on Midwest Asphalt’s own loaders and, according to some Kings Forest residents, are much less intrusive than the regular alarms. Midwest Asphalt will also consider planting pine trees along its property near Edenvale Boulevard; re-adjusting the schedule of its noisier operations; relocating its stock pile of pile of old, broken-up pavement and explore operation methods of unloading trucks to make it unnecessary to use beeping alarms.

ABOUT THIS SECTION
The following public documents, commentary and information below pertain to a rail-to-truck transfer facility that was proposed by L.G. Everist, Inc., of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The project will be built on 2.74 acres of leased land next to Twin Cities and Western Railroad tracks on Industrial Drive near Birch Island Park and Woods, Glen Lake Golf Center, the SW Regional Trail and the Kings Forest neighborhood in north central Eden Prairie.

This space has been provided by Friends of Birch Island Woods to Aggregate Action and its successor to help residents, agencies, groups and businesses in north central Eden Prairie evaluate the project and develop greater community involvement in the industrial district within which it is located.

SUMMARY OF WHAT’S WENT ON...

Aggregate Action has formed a core committee including residents Duane Wharton, Jan Anderson, Dave Spoor and others. The core committee will be coordinating pre-arranged and guided visits to the site of the proposed aggregate transfer facility and Midwest Asphalt. The core committee will work directly with city officials and the pertinent companies and provide the media with updates of its activities.

The public documents, commentary and information in Section 5 below pertain to the proposed L.G. Everist project and to the project’s associated businesses including Midwest Asphalt and Twin Cities and Western Railroad.

The Industrial Drive project would be close to Birch Island Park, Eden Wood (a retreat and camp for special needs children and their families), Birch Island Woods, Glen Lake Golf Course, and Kings Forest, Edenvale and Birch Island neighborhoods. The proposed facility would be served by Twin Cities and Western Railroad and supply washed, granite aggregate to neighbor Midwest Asphalt and other pavement producers in the region.

The EP News reports that L.G. Everist says that sales are expected to be 30,000 to 50,000 tons during its first year of operation and could climb as high as 300,000 tons per year by 2015.

A DEMONSTRATION and VISITS

During a Tuesday July 19th meeting at Eden Prairie City Hall, project proponent A.G. Everist, Inc. and Midwest Asphalt, Inc., Aggregate Action and representatives from the City of Eden Prairie agreed to meet again so that each could learn more about the project, resident concerns and possibly explore improving the plan as it stood on July 19th.

As a result of that understanding, core committee members Jan Anderson, Dave Spoor, Duane Wharton and Vicky Miller and observers Jeff Strate and Ken Anderson visited the site of the proposed transfer facility and asphalt operation with Midwest Asphalt Vice President Blair Bury on August 2, 2005.

On Wednesday July 27, 2005 A.G. Everist ran a simulation (demonstration) of the operation for the City next to the proposed site. Midwest Asphalt officials also attended. The demonstration included the unloading of washed aggregate (broken-up granite) from gondola cars on Twin Cities and Western tracks into aggregate trucks and driven the short distance to Midwest Asphalt.

City Planner Mike Franzen’s report to the City Council about the demonstration is available via the link in Section 5 below.

Although not alerted about the demonstration, several Aggregate Action core committee members were on a separate tour of the asphalt operation at the time and were able to see part of the demonstration.

NOTE: Those wishing to visit these sites need to make arrangements with Jan Anderson at 952-937-1271 or through Blair Bury at 952-259-0239.

Actions at City Hall
The City Council was expected to move to approve a more finely tuned project proposal on Tuesday July 19th. Instead the L.G. Everist project was removed from the City Council’s agenda. This provided additional time for (1) Aggregate Action, (2) A.G. Everist, Inc., (3) Midwest Asphalt and (4) the City to share their concerns with one another.

Meetings on July 19, 2005
Aggregate Action held a 25-minute long briefing for interested citizens at Eden Prairie City Hall at 6 p.m. Ned Hirschler and legal counselor Tom Casey reviewed the status of the project and outlined the actions which could be taken to become involved in evaluating the project and either to oppose the project or request changes to the project.

During the City Council Forum prior to the City Council Meeting, Ned Hirschler and a few others summarized resident concerns about the project and the City’s public notification protocol for public hearings on development projects. City Manager Scott Neal said that in this instance the legally required notification procedures had been followed but, as prescribed by law, they could not accommodate the broader concerns of the project. A brief discussion about what could be done to better inform the public in future similar situations followed. A more detailed account of the forum can be downloaded posted here when ready and made available.

At approximately 7:15 p.m. an informational meeting was held in Heritage Room 3 while the city council proceeded with its regular meeting. Attending were three groups of people: (1) approximately 38 residents gathering as Aggregate Action; (2) Project proponents -- A.G. Everist, Inc. President/CEO Rick Everist and Vice President Rob Everist., Midwest Asphalt Vice President Blair Bury and (3) City staff including planner Mike Franzen, Recording Secretary Lorene McWaters and City Attorney Ric Rosow.

The minutes of this approximately 90-minute long meeting that were recorded an made available by the City are available in Section #5 below. Generally, the representatives of the A.G. Everist Company and Midwest Asphalt Company answered questions about the project related to projected noise, dust and railroad and truck traffic, future land needs in view of possible expansion of the facility and aggregate stock piling. A number of attendees continued to have concerns about the project and doubt the projections pertaining to noise and dust levels that are being anticipated by the proponents. A.G. Everist and Midwest Asphalt feel that as soon as people see first hand how the transfer station works (possibly at an existing A.G. Everist operation in New Brighton) their worries would disappear. They said that they intend to be good neighbors and operate within all the restrictions. Midwest Asphalt said it welcomed organized groups to visit its facility.

Further joint meetings planned:
The proponents agreed to meet representatives of Aggregate Action at its transfer facility in New Brighton; one they say is similar to the one being proposed for Industrial Drive in Eden Prairie. The proponents also agreed with requests during the meeting that if Aggregate Action can soon identify and present workable changes to the current plan that E.G. Everist would consider them.

Deadlines:
If the final city council approval or rejection of the proposal by law falls no later than August 16, 2005. If the city takes no action on that date, the proposal could proceed by default. A.G. Everist could request a continuance from the city if it feels that amendments to the developers agreement with the city will improve its proposed project and satisfy resident concerns.

Aggregate Action initiatives:
Aggregate Action organizers said they would form a special committee to meet with the proponents and visit the existing New Brighton facility.

Earlier Events
During its May 23, 2005 meeting, the Eden Prairie Planning Commission approved the request for the Planned Unit Development Concept of 2.74 acres that the project will occur on. During its June 21, 2005 meeting, the Eden Prairie City Council adopted a Resolution for the Planned Unit Development Concept Review of the project and approved certain waivers and zoning amendments and directed the city staff to prepare a Development Agreement incorporating Staff and Board recommendations and Council conditions.

July 11, Neighborhood Meeting
On Monday July 11, Council Member Ron Case, Friends of Birch Island Woods leader Jeff Strate and host Jan Anderson met with a group of 41 people in Jan’s backyard. They summarized the situation and answered questions about the proposed project, its current status, the process of reviewing the project and what actions, if any, might be taken to stop the project or shape it into a much better and neighborly project. Mr. Case urged those gathered to bring their concerns to the July 19th city council meeting. He said that the city’s legal counsel was of the opinion that the proposal for the aggregate transfer station met the tests for approval and for the granting of several variances and that the city’s legal counsel felt that the city had no known legal grounds to stop the project.

Mr. Case along with the group was disappointed that the city’s standard notification process was ineffective in engaging resident participation in the review process. Mr. Strate, noting that nearby residents, Friendship Ventures, Friends of Birch Island Woods and others who have enormous investments in the well being of northern Eden Prairie should have been alerted months ago about the proposed aggregate transfer station. The city is may only be required by law to notify land owners with properties within 500 feet of a project, he noted, but this is a project which could negatively effect a whole host of people within a mile of the project. Some were concerned that their home values would decline.

Ned Hirschler, Dave Spoor and others questioned the credibility of the proponents estimates of noise pollution and of the city staff’s acceptance of those estimates. They held that the data that the city is basing its decision on seems to have not taken into account the additional noise that will be generated at the transfer site and along the railroad right of way. Mr. Spoor developed a table of estimates of what the project will really mean in terms of additional noise from trains, trucks, loading and unloading and OSHA required alert signals that are prompted by trucks and heavy equipment when they back up. Mr. Spoors analysis will soon be posted here. Even though Everist Inc. will be subject to the same limitations as Midwest Asphalt, there will be much more of the kind of nuisance effects currently produced by the asphalt producer.

Calls for a better plan and immediate action
Resident David Meyer who works for a cement manufacturer in Eagan agreed with Mr. Case, Mr. Strate and others that if the project is built, if should be built in a way that would reduce noise and dust pollution. He recommended that the group propose measures that are recommended by the Aggregate and Ready Mix Association (ARM) of Minnesota for the operation of environmentally clean operation of cement and aggregate facilities. He mentioned that aggregate transfer stations can operate inside a building even though such an enterprise involves large trucks and trains.

ARM’s local web site is http://www.armofmn.com/
Contact info for this group is:
12300 Dupont Avenue South, Burnsville, MN 55337
Phone (952) 707-1250; Fax (952) 707-1251
Fred Corrigan, Executive Director, (952)707-1250 email: fcorrigan@armofmn.com

Several attendees volunteered to form an action team which would move quickly to enable people to weigh in on the issue. One initiative will be an attempt by Friday July 15 to identify for the city, legal means to require stricter operating ordinances for the Everist project, Midwest Asphalt and Twin Cities and Western Railroad.

Some attendees to the meeting posed questions and shared comments about the history of the industrial area citing past problems and violations by Midwest Asphalt of operating agreements and past, illegal encroachments on property owned by the Hennepin County Regional Rail Road Authority along the east side of Indian Chief Road.

5. Public documents, commentary and citizen notices pertaining to the project

Click on any of the links below:

July 27, 2005 report about Midwest Asphalt’s New Brighton operation and a demonstration conducted for the City of Eden Prairie of the E.G. Everist aggregate transfer operation. The 7/27/05 report was prepared by EP Planner Mike Franzen and sent to the Mayor and City Council Members.

July 19, 2005, Minutes from the “L.G. Everist Neighborhood Meeting.
These minutes of an informational meeting presided by representatives of L.G. Everist, Inc., and attended by a representative of Midwest Asphalt, Eden Prairie residents and the City of Eden Prairie represented by planner Mike Franzen, recording secretary Lorene McWaters and by the City’s legal Counsel Ric Rosow were recorded by and made available by the City. Midway through the meeting, City Council Member Ron Case joined the meeting.

June 21, 2005 City Council Minutes

June 21, 2005 City Council Packet
(The packet contains background information on the project that includes the minutes of the May 23, Planning Commission minutes. City Council members are expected to review these packets prior to council meetings and workshops.)

June 22, 2005 Eden Prairie News Editorial about the project

July 5, 2005: Un-approved Minutes of the Eden Prairie City Council Meeting held on July 5, 2005 that pertain to the proposed aggregate transfer facility

July 9, 2005 flyer announcing neighborhood informational meeting on July 11th

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THESE TOPICS:

AGGREGATE ACTION
To contact "Aggregate Action" and to participate call Jan Anderson at
952-937-1271 or via email at Kander5287@aol.com

CITY OF EDEN PRAIRIE

City Manager Scott Neal at 952-949-8300 or via email him at
sneal@edenprairie.org
or
Community Development Director Janet Jeremiah at 952-949-8300 or via email
her at jjeremiah@edenprairie.org

To contact Eden Prairie City Council Members follow the links in this we site's "OFFICIALS" page in its "Speak Out" Section.

PERTINENT COMPANIES

L.G. Everist, Inc web site: http://www.lgeverist.com/
Includes information about the company, associated companies and the Quartzite Association.

Midwest Asphalt Corporation web site: http://midwestasphalt.net/
Includes industry and educational links pertaining to the asphalt industry.

Twin Cities & Western Railroad web site: http://www.tcwr.net/
Mark Wegner will be happy to answer any questions pertaining to TC&W. Mr. Wegner can be reached at TC&W offices in Glencoe by phone at 320-8647204

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