Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County, Minnesota
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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has created very complex development friendly rules that let local government develop on the flood plain, put up billboards, build on bluffs in defined "Critical Areas" on the Mississippi River which will replace simpler rules. In the past this has been an environmental disaster when bluffs fail, like the recent Fairview Hospital slide which was built before the current rules, Brick Yard slide that killed elementary students or flooding developments on the river costing tax payers millions and polluting the river.
For examples see the following comments:
Information to submit your own comments is available here: MRCCA Rules Process. The resulting revised version is now being made available for general public review, which will include notification of all property owners within the MRCCA boundary. The draft rules are available on the link.
Canadian Pacific Railroad Without Permits Twice Tried to Fill in Pigs Eye Lake Near Heron Rookery
Canadian Pacific Railroad is trying to fill in Pigs Eye Lake without permits needed to increase length of trains in the yard by Pigs Eye. St. Paul residents have stopped industrial development from the rail and barge companies on Pigs Eye for 40 years because of environmental problems brought by the development from filling in flood plain which raised the river levels, pollution and removing habitat for eagles and herons. The current strategy seems to be ignoring the law and building in the flood plain without permits.
CP Rail Pigs Eye Lake Letter to the Editor - Saint Paul Pioneer Press
I appreciate your giving front page attention to CP's proposed impacts to our National and Regional Parks, Pig's Eye Lake, and the residential neighborhood. Unfortunately the story left out some key details. State and City Regulations prohibit the proposal. R-1 residential zoning does not allow rail yards. The MN DNR designates Pig's Eye a Natural Environment Lake (MN Wetland Regulations). St Paul Critical Area regulations prohibit any structure (steel piling wall) within 200 feet of the OHW. The wall runs right to the water's edge. State and City Critical Area regulations prohibit expansion of existing commercial and industrial in the State designated Urban Open Space District.
This proposal will increase noise and reduce safety. The proposal is part of CP's plan to double the daily number of cars in this and other yards by closing yards and shifting those cars to the protected wetlands of our waterfront. Doubling of the cars will increase noise and will increase the traffic into the yard. It will also negatively impact safety. Doubling the volume of a mix of hazardous and flammable materials abutting the lake shore and planned regional park trail and in close proximity to the single family residential neighborhood, significantly increases the risks to environment, homeowners, workers, park, and trail users. Relocating hazardous and flammable materials from other locations and concentrating them in a residential neighborhood on our waterfront is foolhardy at best. It is also prohibited by State and City regulations.
We must avoid "death by a thousand cuts" to our National Park and riverfront neighborhoods. Saint Paul and the State of Minnesota should enforce the Critical Area and wetland protections they have adopted to protect these resources.
St. Paul Bikeways Plan Adds 200+ Miles
St. Paul has a Bikeways Plan up for comment that adds over 200 miles to its current bike routes. Public comment until April 30th, check the city website link in the headline.
"Park Notes" Newsletter March 2014:
Mississippi River Corridor Plan
AKA "The Great River Passage Master Plan" is up for public comment. The plan links, topics and public comment period dates are at GreatRiverPassage.org. The plan has good things and bad in our view, please check out our comments (PDF). The plan will affect the Mississippi River front, bluff and flood plain developments for decades.
St. Paul Park Land Dedication Ordinance
In 2007, the City of St. Paul passed an ordinance requiring that new development in the city contribute either cash or land for the park system. This requirement helps provide for the increased need for recreation opportunities, parks, and open spaces that accompany new development. The 2007 ordinance based its requirements on the number of new parking spaces that are provided by the new development. The ordinance is now being amended and that requirement for new parking will be changed. Most of the municipalities in Minnesota have parkland dedication ordinances.
There was a public hearing before the Planning Commission on February 10 regarding the amendments to the parkland dedication ordinance. The Friends made the following recommendations: Currently in the ordinance there is a discount of 2/3 for cash instead of land. We are recommending that there should be no discount.
We also recommend that a 10 percent donation of land (or cash) be made at the time of platting of the land. Currently, the ordinance requires a 2 percent donation at the time of platting and 7 percent at the time of building permits. We believe that a 10 percent donation when the land is platted would be especially helpful on large parcels of lands such as the Ford property. This change would improve the current practice where the city gets little bits of property when the land is platted and then later when building permits are issued.
Here is the proposed amended ordinance with the Friends recommendations in red, and justification of our recommendations in blue. Park Land Dedication Changes
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