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MAPLEWOOD, MN-A proposed $24-million, 162-unit Beaver Lake townhome and apartment project has passed a critical step with the city council here this week. The council voted to adopt a consultant’s finding that the project, which is planned by developer Tony Emmerich Homes for 27 acres just east of Beaver Lake, would not have significant impact on the environment.

The environmental assessment worksheet was petitioned by neighbors to the project, who question the size of the project as well as the impact on the area, which is wooded with a creek.

The consultants say the developer should find ways to protect the creek and address traffic safety issues.

That said, it does not need to go through a lengthy environmental impact statement, according to the report. After objections earlier this year, the developer scaled back the project from 162 units to 148, including 40 owner-occupied townhomes and 108apartment units in several buildings.

The Beaver Lake townhomes and apartment project would cover 27 acres of woods that long have been treated as a nature preserve by neighbors — even so, it has been zoned for residential development since the early 1980s. The site is adjacent to the Rosewood Estate property at Maryland Avenue and Lakewood Drive in Maplewood.

The city is looking at buying the creek and its channel — a narrow 9-acre strip — to preserve it as public land, possibly for a trail.

The project still must clear a variety of other council approvals and hurdles before construction can begin.

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