LETTER | Potala's Environmental Impact Study: Developer requested revision


At this point it may not come as any surprise that the EIS for Potala had it's scope of study reduced when Justin Stewart of the Potala team requested (through an email) that the city see if Inova could provide a study that would meet the budget of the developer.



As this is the first time I've gotten closely acquainted with the EIS process, I find this troubling.  A bit of research into the process shows that to be a "legally adequate EIS" it must take a "hard look at all the impacts."  To be a "legally adequate EIS" it must look at a range of all the potential alternatives and must specifically avoid just looking at the developer's preferred solution or focusing on what the developer claims is financially feasible for him.  To be "legally adequate" the study must investigate each of the areas raised during the appropriate scoping period.



Take a look at the EIS posted on the city website.  It uses incorrect calculations, is tremendously shallow in how it covers each topic, and it fails to apply many of the city's plans and policies and legal restraints on the property....



Heck it doesn't even review how the proposal will meet the definition of "Residential Market - Commercial."  Hasn't that been the crux of the discussion for all these 18 months?  Wasn't the main focus of all the scoping comments about achieving something that meets this required Comprehensive Plan designation?  That and residential density are the two most emphasized concerns of the public.



I'll ask again, where is the discussion of Potala and whether it meets the definition of Residential Market "an individual store or very small mixed use building/center?"  Where do the consultant's evaluate whether the proposal meets the Res Mkt definition of neighborhood serving businesses (it appears the proposal is suggesting medical offices instead so that the project bears less financial cost of parking)?  Where is the EIS evaluation of whether this project provides the required Community Gathering area?



Well, we can argue that it is inappropriate for an EIS to be reduced in scope for the developer's budget.  We can argue that it is inappropriate for the city to be brokering this reduced cost on behalf of the developer.  Mostly, however, I'll argue that the EIS is supposed to be the mechanism that protects the community and I feel we've been sold a bill of goods with a superficial and misleading document.




Karen Levenson