Star Lake Concerned Citizens Group | P.O. Box 41, Dent MN 56528 | 218-251-1975

Environmental Assessment Worksheet - Star Lake Casino Development

StatusOn 7-11-2017 decision was made to extend EAW-EIS review period and decision to August 22, 2017.
The OTC Board of Commissioners and Houston Engineering (OTC's environmental review consultant) continue to review the public comments received. The extension will allow more time to analyze the substantive issues brought forward in the comments, request additional information from the proposer and work on scoping an EIS. Next scheduled OTC meeting on the EAW-EIS is August 22, 2017 (1pm) at the Government Services Center, Fergus Falls, MN. Link to Notice.

The comment period was from May 22 - June 21, 2017. See the May 22, 2017 posting on the EQB Monitor to view the Public Notice for the Enviromental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the Star Lake Casino Development.

Link to EAW and Public Comments:  Documents are posted on the OTC website

Project Description:
Otter Tail County is announcing the release of an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the proposed Star Lake Casino Development (project). The proposed project is a resort with a gaming facility, hotel, restaurants, conference center, RV park, and associated support buildings and parking. The project incorporates potable water treatment and wastewater treatment systems. Connected actions involve a new transmission line segment, a new distribution substation, and replacement of an existing overhead transmission line with an underground transmission line, as proposed by Great River Energy and Lake Region Electric Cooperative. The new transmission line segment will serve the electric load for the proposed Star Lake Facility.

Written Comments:  Written comments may be submitted to Bill Kalar, the designated RGU contact person. You may submit comments via US Postal or you can send an Email response. Either way, please include your name and home mailing address along with your comments.

    Bill Kalar, Land & Resource Management Director
    OTC Government Services Center, 540 West Fir, Fergus Falls, MN 56537
    Email: bkalar@co.ottertail.mn.us

Verbal Comments:  A Public Information Meeting was held June 15th at the Pelican Rapids School Auditorium from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Over 200 people attended this event. Thank you for your show of support and especially those that stepped up to the microphone to offer their comments.

Responsible Governmental Unit (RGU):  Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners
A decision about the need for a more detailed analysis of the potential impacts of the project through the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement will be made by the Otter Tail County Board following the close of the public comment period.

EAW Comments

06/20/2017:  Link to the Technical Review provided by EOR, our Environmental Engineering Consultant, pertaining to the EAW (these comments were submitted to OTC):  Techinical Review by EOR

07/10/2017:  SLCCG prepared a document for OTC officials to assist them in identifying the wide range of issues we believe need to be included in the scope of an EIS. The document represents extracts and summaries from the public comments submitted to OTC. This document was delivered to the OTC Commissioners and they entered it into the official project record; you can view it on the OTC website: SLCCG Proposed Findings.

 

EAW Talking Points

We have drafted some talking points to assist you in selecting topics to write about in your EAW comment letter. You can view them by clicking the "EAW Talking Points" button below.

It is important to respond in your own words; do not just copy/paste the text from the talking point(s).

Also review the section below entitled "Tips for Writing EAW Comments" as you put together your letter.  These tips are provided by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB) to help you with the commenting process and prepare an effective and actionable response.

EAW Talking Points

 

Tips for Writing EAW Comments

The RGU is required to evaluate and respond to substantive comments. Substantive comments address the content or issue raised in the EAW. Public comments are particularly valuable and helpful to the RGU when they:

  • List any inaccuracies in the EAW or other accompanying documents.
  • Show potential environmental impacts that haven’t been identified by the proposer or the RGU.
  • Show that certain environmental impacts have been identified, but haven’t been adequately addressed.
  • Suggest possible mitigation measures that should be added to the proposal

Clearly written comments are more useful to RGUs and are more likely to get some kind of action. The following tips will help effectively communicate a comment to the RGU:

  • Be clear, concise and organized
  • Be specific - Saying that you are against a project will not have as much of an effect as saying why you are against it. Include as much factual information as possible.
  • Refer to the page number or question number in your comment letter when responding to specific items in the EAW.

Source: MN EQB - A Citizen’s Guide: Commenting on Environmental Review Projects

Difference between an EAW and EIS

The EAW – Environmental Assessment Worksheet – is designed to provide a brief analysis and overview of the potential environmental impacts for a specific project and to help the RGU determine whether an EIS is necessary. EAWs are usually 15-50 pages in length. The EAW consists of a standard list of questions and is meant to set out the basic facts of the project’s environmental impacts. It usually takes about 2-3 months for a project to complete the entire EAW process. The EAW is not meant to approve or disapprove a project, but is simply a source of information to guide other approvals and permitting decisions.

The EAW components and supporting documents include:

  1. Project title
  2. Proposer
  3. RGU - Responsible Governmental Unit
  4. Reason for EAW preparation
  5. Project location and maps
  6. Project description
  7. Cover types
  8. Permits and approvals required
  9. Land use
10. Geology, soils, topography/land forms
11. Water Resources
12. Contamination / Hazardous Materials / Wastes
13. Fish, wildlife, plant communities, and sensitive ecological resources
14. Historic properties
15. Visual
16. Air
17. Noise
18. Transportation
19. Cumulative Potential Effects (CPE)
20. Other potential environmental effects

 

The EIS – Environmental Impact Statement – is a much more detailed analysis of environmental effects. It can frequently take as long as one year for a project to complete the entire EIS process. Unlike the EAW, the EIS does not have a questionnaire type format or a standardized list of questions. Instead, the focus is on the key environmental, social and economic issues that are likely to result from the project, and a detailed analysis of those issues. The EIS also examines whether there are alternative project designs or locations that would result in fewer environmental impacts. (Source: EQB: A Citizen’s Guide: An Introduction to Environmental Review)

EQB: A Citizen’s Guide: An Introduction to Environmental Review

EQB: A Citizen’s Guide: An Introduction to Environmental Review


Links to More Information about the Environmental Review Process


Environmental Assessment Worksheet Process Steps and Timeline

  1. Proposer submits completed data portions of EAW to RGU (RGU = Responsible Government Unit = Otter Tail County)
  2. RGU reviews data submittal for completeness (within 30 days – extendable with agreement of proposer)
  3. If complete, notifies proposer within 5 business days
  4. If incomplete, returns for corrections (then steps 1 & 2 repeat) 
  5. RGU prepares and approves EAW for public comment (within 30 days of notice of completeness sent to proposer)
  6. RGU submits notice to EQB for publication in EQB Monitor and distributes EAW to official EQB distribution list (within 5 business days of approval of scoping EAW)
  7. RGU publishes press release/notice about EAW to at least one newspaper of general circulation in project area or on an official publication website for the political subdivision in which the project is proposed (within 5 business days of submission of notice to EQB)
  8. Notice appears in EQB Monitor (varies between 7 and 20 days from receipt of notice at EQB, but usually is 7 days)
  9. (Optional: RGU may hold public meeting to receive oral comments; if meeting held, information regarding meeting included in Monitor notice & in press release)
  10. Comment period ends (30 days after Monitor notice published)
  11. RGU prepares written responses to substantive and timely comments (documented in Record of Decision documents; RGU may request information from proposer as necessary) <-- In progress.
  12. RGU makes EIS need decision based on whether record (EAW, comments & responses) indicates project has the potential for significant environmental effects (between 3 business and 30 calendar after end of comment period; RGU may postpone decision to gather critical missing information for up to 30 days or a longer period if agreed to by the project proposer; decision must be documented in written record of decision) <-- In progress.
  13. RGU distributes notice of EIS need decision (within 5 business days to EAW distribution list and anyone else who submitted timely and substantive comments; commenters must receive copy of response to their comments)
  14. EQB publishes notice of EIS need decision in EQB Monitor

(Source:  Environmental Quality Board)