Opponents of the proposed Noble Hill housing development near Eden Prairie’s Fredrick-Miller Spring have filed a lawsuit against the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District, alleging that the district’s Aug. 12 approval of permits for the project ignored warnings that erosion and water pollution might result.
In a prepared statement, the Spring Valley Friends group that has formed to oppose the 50-lot project said the watershed district should have given more weight to concerns by University of Minnesota civil engineer professor Otto Strack about whether the plan’s water infiltration and retention ponds – designed to hold runoff and prevent pollution and erosion on the sloped property after large rainfalls – will do the job.
The watershed district “refused to hear from one of the top slope experts on the landslide risk,” Eden Prairie resident and Spring Valley Friends supporter Karin Keeling said in the statement. “The public has been shut out of the process, so unfortunately the legal path is the only way we can have a voice to ensure the protection of our community’s water and safety.”
Efforts by Eden Prairie Local News to get a statement or response from the watershed district were unsuccessful.
The lawsuit filed in district court Sept. 10 lays out the group’s belief that the 28-acre site has high environmental value and that the watershed district failed to adequately study the potential for the project’s water-retention ponds to fail and the steep slopes to erode in the event of heavy rainfall. It asks the court to order the watershed district to withdraw the permit until more study is done.
The watershed district, prior to approving Noble Hill’s permit Aug. 12, had reviewed the matter in three meetings, allowing time for additional study. Following a June meeting of its board of managers, for example, it convened a group of engineers, a hydrogeologist, and a landscape architect to further identify environment risks and review the project’s plans to prevent them. The group concluded that the developer, Pulte Homes, has taken steps to address those risks.
But the Spring Valley Friends contend that Strack, recruited by the group, has additional concerns that weren’t considered during the watershed board’s deliberations.
Now, apparently, it’s up to the court to decide which side prevails.
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