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SAJ-2012-00841 (SP-KRD)

Posted: 1/22/2018

Expiration date: 2/17/2018


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:

APPLICANT:
Collier County Board of Commissioners
3299 East Tamiami Trail
Naples, Florida 34112

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with two existing borrow pits and existing drainage canals associated with the Bird Rookery Swamp/Corkscrew Swamp and the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. The project site is located at on a 68-acre parcel located north of Oil Well Road and east of Immokalee Road, Section 14, Township 48 South, Range 27 East, in Naples, Collier County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: From Fort Myers, Florida, take I-75 South to Exit #111 to Immokalee Road in Naples, Collier County, and continue approximately 12 miles and take a right onto 39th Avenue NE. The project parcel is located in the citrus groves and around the existing 93+ acre borrow pit to the east of the terminus of 39th Avenue NE.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: 
Latitude 26.304341°
Longitude -81.579967°

 

PROJECT PURPOSE:
Basic: Community recreational development.
Overall: The development of a countywide regional and community park system to provide parks, a recreation facility, and open space areas to meet the needs of residents and visitors of Collier County.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater drainage canals and borrow pits with downstream and upstream connections to non-tidal forested wetland systems. The proposed project site consists of a mixture of an active citrus grove, an abandoned large and small borrow pit, and drainage canals. The area is surrounded by single family subdivisions and two public schools. The dominant habitat types on site, as previously stated, are Citrus (221) and Borrow pits (742). The entire site provides poor quality habitat for vertebrates. The wetlands "other surface waters" have been severely impacted by surrounding development and the presence of exotic /nuisance vegetation. The area proposed to be impacted is primarily vegetated with cattails.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a new regional park, Big Corkscrew Regional Park, on a 68-acre parcel located north of Oil Well Road and east of Immokalee Road, Section 14, Township 48 South, Range 27 East, in Naples, Collier County, Florida. The project will involve the construction of amenities such as playgrounds, ball fields, swimming pools and a community center with associated parking lots, access roads, and other infrastructure.

The project will result in the permanent fill of approximately 5.02-acres of the existing borrow pit for the construction of a road that will connect Orange Blossom Ranch subdivision to the proposed regional park. Two (2) road crossings will be constructed within the existing drainage canals on the project site, resulting in the fill of approximately 2.25–acres of other waters in association with the construction of the culverted crossings and to establish proper side slopes and excavation of approximately 0.65-acres of other waters in order to establish proper side slopes on the canals. An additional 2.1-acres of the existing smaller borrow pit located at the northeast side of the project site will be excavated to create proper side slopes for conversion into a stormwater management pond. All other construction impacts will be located in upland areas.

In total, the project will result in the permanent fill of approximately 7.30-acres and excavation of 2.75-acres of open water and/or side slopes along the existing borrow pits and drainage canals.

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION: The applicant has provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment:

Avoidance: The project site was selected to take advantage of an existing area that needs a public park but that has already been disturbed by adjacent development. There are no wetlands within the project area and impacts to “other surface waters” will not cause a significant permanent loss of aquatic resources.

Minimization: The project as proposed represents the consideration of numerous alternatives that all considered the minimization or elimination of wetland impacts. As currently proposed, this project balances the numerous demands of many competing regulations into a workable cost effective project. Such regulatory factors as fire safety, parking, zoning, indigenous preservation, setbacks, buffering, landscape and aesthetics, as well, as such practical considerations as utility service, vehicle access, market conditions and building support spaces all played into the ultimate design that is presented.

Alternative sites for this project were limited. This proposed regional park is designed and located to service citizens in an area currently lacking such facilities. The surrounding (adjoining) properties are developed as either roadway or in educational (schools) and residential uses. The construction of this site would be considered redevelopment of an existing impacted parcel. This alleviates the use of lands outside the urban area, for similar use. Chapter 163.3177(6)(e), Florida Statues require each local government comprehensive plan to have “a recreational and open space element indicating a comprehensive system of public and private sites for recreation, including, but not limited to, natural reservations, parks and playgrounds, parkways, beaches and public access to beaches, open spaces, and other recreational facilities.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required:
“The impacts proposed are to man-made water bodies. Those being borrow pits and a drainage canal. Little to no adverse environmental effects are proposed. Since the proposed impacts are to these water bodies “Other Surface Waters” no compensatory mitigation is proposed.”

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. By copy of this public notice, the Corps is providing information for review. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts is subject to review by and coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: Based upon information provided by the applicant, the Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the: Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi), Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Florida Bonneted Bat (Eumops floridanus), Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi), and Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). The project will not impact any designated critical habitat. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) concurrence with these determinations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as deemed necessary and noted below.

Eastern Indigo Snake: Potential impacts to the eastern indigo snake were evaluated using the revised SFESO Eastern Indigo Snake Key dated July 2017. The Corps has programmatic concurrence with the sequential determination of A>B >C>D>NLAA (not likely to adversely affect) pursuant to the key. This determination is based on the project’s impacts to less than 25 acres of eastern indigo snake habitat, the site having no known active or inactive gopher tortoise burrows, and the permit shall be conditioned to use the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake (dated August 12, 2013). Furthermore, the applicant had listed species surveys conducted in April-June 2017 and the application documented that no suitable habitat for Gopher tortoise was found and searches within the spoil material areas showed no signs of burrows or individual tortoises. The Corps has USFWS concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key and no further consultation will be required.

Everglade Snail Kite: The project site is within the Everglade snail kite consultation area, however it is not in or near the species critical habitat or a priority management zone. Potential impacts were evaluated using the SFESO’s May 18, 2004 Snail Kite Survey Protocol to judge the adequacy of the habitat for snail kites (i.e., presence of appropriate foraging habitat, presence of nesting or perching substrate, presence of appropriate water depth under nesting substrate, adequate distance of nesting substrate from uplands, and proximity to nearest wading bird colony). The project site may contain suitable habitat for nesting or perching (i.e. cattails (Typha spp.) and reed grass (Phragmites spp.), however, no individuals or nests were observed on the property. The project will impacts a small portion, about 5%, of the 93-acre borrow pit, which will otherwise be left undisturbed. The Corps has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect this species and further consultation will be required.

Florida Bonneted Bat: The project is located outside of the Florida bonneted bat (FBB) focal area, but within the overall consultation area. Potential impacts to the FBB were evaluated using the 2013 FBB consultation guidelines key and results of the FBB survey conducted by Collier Environmental Consultants on May 1-16, 2017. The survey results indicated that no individuals or cavities were documented, but an acoustic survey did pick up the FBB’s signature call on two occasions. It is assumed that the large borrow pit is provided foraging habitat for the bat. Use of the 2013 consultation guidelines has led the Corps to determine the project may affect the FBB as the project keys out 2>c>May Affect because the project site is greater than 5 acres and includes more than 1-acre of open water habitat (i.e. the borrow pits). However, this project is not anticipated to negatively impact the FBB because the 93+ acres of borrow pit areas will remain and will still provide foraging areas and a source of water for the bats. The project will impact a small portion of upland citrus groves, borrow pits and drainage ditches which does not include potential roost sites. Based on these factors, the Corps will be required to conduct consultation with USFWS, but will be requesting concurrence that this project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the FBB.

Florida Panther: The project site is within the Florida panther focus area. The Corps has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Florida panther. Potential impacts to the panther were evaluated using the February 19, 2007 Florida Panther Effect Determination Key which resulted in the sequential determination of A>C>May Affect because the project is within the Panther Focus Area and is greater than 1 acre. However, a previous consultation was conducted for the Florida panther on this project site in 2012. The consultation resulted in concurrence with a may affect, but not likely to adversely affect determination. Furthermore, because the project areas consist of a mixture of citrus grove and a large borrow pit surrounded by single-family subdivisions and two public schools, the Corps does not anticipated a significant increase in traffic as a result of this project. Therefore, the Corps has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the panther and further consultation will be required.

Wood Stork: The project is located within Wood Stork Colonies buffer areas, but is not within 0.47 miles of an active colony. However, the project site does support suitable foraging habitat (SFH). The applicant provided a Wood Stork Foraging Analysis, dated June 2017, which indicated that SFH would be limited to the first five feet from the water’s edge of the borrow pit after which the water depths would be too deep for foraging. It was estimated that approximately 0.44-acre of SFH would be impacted, although a majority of this area consists of impenetrable cattails (Typha spp.) and would most likely not be used by the wood stork. There were no individuals documented during the April-June 2017 survey, but their presence would be suspected. In accordance with the Corps and USFWS SFESO South Florida Programmatic Concurrence Wood Stork Key (May 18, 2010), the project keyed out A (SFH greater than 0.76km from active colony) > B (SFH >0.20 hectare) > C (SFH not within CFA) > D > May Affect. However, this project will only impact a small portion of the existing borrow pit and drainage canals which will be filled for road construction and currently support steep side slopes. The end result of the project will be proper slopes that could provide increased foraging habitat. Therefore, the Corps has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood stork and further consultation will be required.

The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any listed threatened or endangered species designated critical habitat. The Corps has also determined that the proposed project will have no effect on the Audubon’s Crested Caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii), Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), and Red Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) because the project site does not support suitable habitat for any of these species.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): This notice initiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. Since the project site is located inland of any tidal waters or freshwater rivers, the proposal would not impact any EFH habitat does not require consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

NOTE: This public notice is being issued based on information furnished by the applicant. This information has not been verified or evaluated to ensure compliance with laws and regulation governing the regulatory program. The jurisdictional line has not been verified by Corps personnel.

AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or one of the state Water Management Districts.

COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33919 within 30 days from the date of this notice.

The decision whether to issue or deny this permit application will be based on the information received from this public notice and the evaluation of the probable impact to the associated wetlands. This is based on an analysis of the applicant's avoidance and minimization efforts for the project, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.

QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Katy Damico, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd, Fort Myers, Florida 33919; by electronic mail at Katy.R.Damico@usace.army.mil ; by facsimile transmission at (813) 769-7061; or, by telephone at (813) 769-7076.

IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Marine Fisheries Services, and other Federal, State, and local agencies, environmental groups, and concerned citizens generally yields pertinent environmental information that is instrumental in determining the impact the proposed action will have on the natural resources of the area.

EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including cumulative impacts thereof; among these are conservation, economics, esthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food, and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people. Evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will also include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, EPA, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other Interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this determination, comments are used to assess impacts to endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.

COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan. In Puerto Rico, a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Concurrence is required from the Puerto Rico Planning Board. In the Virgin Islands, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources permit constitutes compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Plan.

REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer within the designated comment period of the notice and must state the specific reasons for requesting the public hearing.

___________ County Collier County Jacksonville District permit public notice U.S. Army Corps of Engineers USACE