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Public comment period opens on EAW for proposed Clow Stamping expansion

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

Crow Wing County announced an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) was prepared for a proposed shipping area expansion to Clow Stamping, a metal fabricating facility in Merrifield in Lake Edward Township.

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The proposed project consists of the construction of two storage buildings totaling 86,390 square feet, along with a parking lot and loading area. A new access road will also be constructed to allow trucks and employees to access the loading area off of Highway 3. The EAW reported the expansion is being driven by increased demand for products produced by the Clow Stamping and would create jobs in the county.

The purpose of the EAW process is to disclose information about potential environmental impacts of a project. The worksheet contains 20 questions focusing on the project’s environmental setting, the potential for environmental harm, and plans to reduce the harm.

With the project there would be no loss of wetlands, currently at 13.97 acres. Lawn and landscaping would increase from one acre to two acres. Wooded or forested area would decrease from 56.44 acres to 48 acres and impervious surface would increase from 11.44 acres to 16.60 acres.

Other than the plant site, the majority of the acreage is wooded and undeveloped. Land to the north is classified as shoreland district. Lake Edward is immediately northwest of the project site with low density lake front residential and undeveloped woodlands. Highway 3 is to the northeast along with low to medium density lake front residential property. The highway extends to the east along with agricultural property and a commercial storage facility. Clow Stamping is zoned commercial, heavy industrial district.

The proposed project is within the 1,000-foot shoreland zone of Lake Edward. The zone has a limit of 30 percent impervious surface (such as paved roads, sidewalks and roofs) but the EAW noted the project is below the 30 percent limit. Currently the impervious surfaces total 12.4 percent and with the proposed project would be 18 percent. A 225-foot vegetative buffer would be maintained between the expansion and Lake Edward.

An EAW sets out the basic facts to determine whether a more involved environmental impact statement (EIS) is required.

The document includes information on soil and water sources, wastewater discharge, stormwater, wildlife, plants, habitat, noise, air, transportation. The EAW states the expansion site was cleared since 1939 and replanted in red pine in the early 1970s. The area is now being used as a stormwater pond.

Future expansions could happen in the next five to 20 years and could be expected adjacent to this proposed expansion.

“The potential impacts of this project are minimal and have been addressed throughout this EAW,” Clow Stamping reported.

The EAW document notes a study in 1994 by Widseth Smith Nolting indicated the groundwater was impacted by petroleum and solvents from an undetermined source. Petroleum hydrocarbon impacts were detected around three former fuel oil tanks, which were removed and a building constructed over the site. The EAW information stated the proposed project will not cause or exacerbate any environmental effects.

In 1994, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency determined no more cleanup work was required then or in the foreseeable future, noting not all petroleum contamination was removed from the site but that any remaining contamination didn’t appear to pose a public health or environmental threat. The EAW notes the contamination level was below the health department’s allowable limits in 1994 but exceeds current health risk limits.

Blanding’s turtles, protected as a threatened species in Minnesota, have been in the vicinity.

The 22-page EAW has numerous attachments with additional information about Blanding’s turtles, environmental friendly erosion control and maps of the site and proposed expansion.

Clow Stamping began operation in 1973 and has experienced substantial growth, the EAW noted. Clow Stamping builds component parts for other companies. The Clow Stamping facility consists of about 271,738 square feet of manufacturing and office space on the south central portion of 92 acres of land. A building to the southwest of the facility is utilized as a fitness center for Clow Stamping employees and family.

The EAW stated the storage buildings with the proposed expansion are needed to house shipping containers and finished product. The large storage building will be 63,990 square feet and the small storage building will be 20,000 square feet.

Plans do not call for demolition or removal of existing structures. One of the existing 51,160-square-foot finished product storage buildings would be converted to a manufacturing building. The proposed project is planned to begin in the spring and be completed by fall of 2014.

Public comments on the EAW should be submitted in writing to: Crow Wing County Land Services Department, Environmental Services Division, 322 Laurel St., Suite 14, Brainerd, MN 56401. For more information, contact the department at 824-1128, by fax at 824-1126 or via email at environmental.services@crowwing.us.

A copy of the EAW is available at the Crow Wing County Land Services Building or online at www.crowwing.us/index.aspx?NID=905 and clicking links or directly at http://www.crowwing.us/DocumentCenter/View/5858.

Comments must be submitted to the county by 5 p.m. Feb. 19. A decision on the need for an EIS will be made by the Crow Wing County Board on March 11.

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