The owner of property with about 500 apartment and townhouse units in the west metro is suing the Metropolitan Council, saying the agency has not addressed the “severe noise problem” the Southwest light rail project would create.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in St. Paul on behalf of three adjoining and jointly owned complexes — two in Hopkins and one in Minnetonka — contends that the council’s recently released environmental impact statement “failed to recognize” the high levels of noise that the trains would create while passing so closely to homes and their woods, wetlands, walking paths and recreational areas.
As proposed, the $1.79 billion extension of the Green Line would run within 125 feet of apartments, less than 50 feet from recreational amenities and less than 30 feet from meeting facilities, the owner of the Greenfield Apartments and Raspberry Woods Townhomes in Hopkins and the Deer Ridge Townhomes in Minnetonka contends.
The 1,000 or so people who live on the complex’s 66 acres just west of Hwy. 169 and north of Hwy. 62 enjoy “a parklike setting,” the suit states.
Met Council spokeswoman Kate Brickman said in a statement that the agency “feels confident that there’s just not a case. We have had numerous correspondences and meetings with the property owner and made design adjustments to avoid possible noise impacts. The noise assessment in the [environmental impact statement] … does not identify a potential noise impact to the property.”
Brickman’s statement went on to note that the property owner has been seeking to have a station positioned nearby, but “that is not part of the current project, despite their attempts to lobby the city of Hopkins and us to include one.”
The plaintiffs are asking that the court require the Met Council to review the effect of noise from the light-rail line and undertake whatever reduction actions would be necessary to reach “acceptable residential levels.” The federal environmental impact statement issued Friday by the Federal Transit Administration “provides no noise mitigation” for the group of housing complexes, the suit contends.
In a statement, property owner Stuart Co. said it has made “tireless efforts to work with the Met Council [and] has no choice but to begin protecting its residents and rights with beginning the legal process. The noise pollution levels for this section of SWLRT deserve serious review.”
The 14.5-mile line, connecting downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie, is slated to begin service in 2020.