(THE COURIER-JOURNAL) -- The long-awaited federal Draft Environmental Impact Statement assessing potential sites for the proposed replacement VA Medical Center in Louisville has been released, and the controversial Brownsboro Road site next to I-264 is still deemed the "preferred alternative."

But it would cause "unavoidable adverse impacts" pertaining to air quality, aesthetics, noise, land use, solid waste, hazardous materials, utilities, transportation and traffic in the area of the site, 4906 Brownsboro, the report says. However, implementation of mitigation measures outlined in the report "would substantially decrease the magnitude of these impacts," except in the case of aesthetics and land use, it says.

Public meetings to discuss the impact statement are scheduled for noon to 2 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 15 at Christ Church United Methodist Church, 4614 Brownsboro Road.

The release of the report -- which was supposed to have been available in February -- should enable planning for the project to move forward, 10 years after it was proposed -- although questions have been raised about whether its scope and nearly $1 billion estimated cost remain "valid." Some residents of the Brownsboro Road area and others have objected to the Brownsboro site for numerous reasons, including the potential effect on traffic.

The Environmental Impact Statement also analyzed two other alternatives -- construction and operation of a replacement VAMC campus at the "St. Joseph site" east of I-265 and south of Factory Lane in far northeastern Louisville, even though parcels there are slated for private development; and "No Action," continuing operation from the existing VA Medical Center, 800 Zorn Ave., near River Road.

Staying at the current site is the "environmentally preferable" alternative, the report's executive summary says.