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Clow Stamping expansion won't need environmental impact statement

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Clow Stamping’s expansion plans for its shipping area will not need an environmental impact statement (EIS).

The Crow Wing County Board voted Tuesday the impact statement wasn’t needed after reviewing the environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) on the project.

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Clow Stamping, a metal fabricating facility in Merrifield along County Highway 3, is planning to add two storage buildings totaling about 86,390 square feet along with parking and loading area as it expands its shipping. In addition, plans call for a new access to the northeast of the current entrance on Highway 3. The new road would be accessed by trucks and employees.

Clow Stamping has been on a strong growth pattern. The company reported it invested $16 million for equipment and expansion in the past four years during which time sales grew by 102 percent. In 2013, the company had sales of $57 million. Clow Stamping’s projections for this year are $62 million.

Clow Stamping employs 455 full-time employees and 90 weekend temporary employees. Twyla Flaws, personnel manager, said with overtime hours temps equate to 103 full-time employees for a company total of 550. The average hourly wage at the plant is $17.53. In 2013, the company’s payroll was $15.6 million.

The county and Clow Stamping plan to collaborate on a traffic study with a consultant making recommendations for safety for employees and the traveling public. Tim Bray, highway engineer, said it can be a little chaotic during shift changes. Bray said the study will look at internal movements to help employees and delivery flow.

Clow Stamping is zoned commercial and thus doesn’t require a public hearing for expansion at its site unless it is exceeding impervious surface or setbacks. Members of the public were invited to speak at the board meeting. No member of the public did.

The 20-question EAW sets out the basic facts, disclosing potential for environmental harm and is used to determine if a more in-depth EIS is required. A 30-day public comment period ended Feb. 19. The county reported comments were received from four state/federal agencies and individuals. Previous expansions at Clow Stamping did not require an EAW. Clow Stamping borders wetlands and is near Lake Edward. The expansion area is in an area previously cleared and replanted as a red pine plantation. The county reported in recent years a large portion of the site was converted to a stormwater treatment area.

“The proposed expansion will not have significant environmental effects to the wetlands onsite because it does not call for any more wetland impacts,” the county reported, adding more than 300 feet of the riparian wetlands between the ordinary high water mark and Lake Edward will not be disturbed.

Herb Nelson, Lake Edward Conservation Club, was concerned for the visual and noise impact on the lake, as well as groundwater monitoring. The expansion area is farther back from the highway than the existing plant.

The county reported about 250-300 feet of hardwood forest is between the proposed construction and the ordinary high water mark of Lake Edward. Open water is 600 feet from the construction. The county reported it’s unlikely there would be significant impacts to noise and aesthetics on the lake with the expansion not expected to be visible from Lake Edward when the trees have leaves. Clow Stamping’s nearly two-year-old septic system has advanced pre-treatment and a more than 3-foot separation from the water table, making it unlikely to contribute phosphorus to the groundwater, the county land services staff reported.

Chris Pence, land services supervisor, said the company invested in a performance-based septic system and either followed the ordinance or exceeded it.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency stated clarification was needed for stormwater treatment as the existing system didn’t meet the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit requirements. Clow Stamping retained Bolton & Menk, consulting engineers and surveyors, to prepare a stormwater pollution prevention plan that meets the national and county requirements. Bolton & Menk said soil borings will be performed in the proposed building area to verify ground water elevation and seasonally saturated soils.

Commissioner Paul Koering said it certainly seems Clow Stamping is trying to be a good neighbor and is employing a lot of people at the same time.

About Clow Stamping:

The family owned company has operated since 1970 and has been at its current site since 1973. Owners are Reggie Clow and Tara Clow Moghadam. The plant covers 275,000 square feet. Clow has more than 500 customers with shipments mostly in the U.S. but also to China, Ireland, France, Singapore, Canada and Mexico.

Its customers include industries in agriculture, recreation, heavy and light equipment. Clow Stamping’s 2013 taxes in Crow Wing County totaled $129,829. Plans show four additional buildings as possible future expansion options. Expanding beyond those four future sites would require additional environmental review.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz.

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