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) as described below:
APPLICANT: Mattamy Homes
Attn: Andrew Abel
1900 Summit Tower Blvd., Suite 500
Orlando, Florida 32810
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Reedy Creek. The project site is located at 13820, 13748, 13650, 13460 Reams Road, in Sections 34 and 35, Township 23 South, Range 27 East, Orange County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: The property is located on the south side of Reams Road approximately one mile south of Ficquette Road within Horizon West.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 28.4361°
Overall: Development of a residential development within the Horizon West Special Planning Area, Orange County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater system which extends offsite. Vegetation observed within this community includes swamp tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), cypress (Taxodium distichum), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), red maple (Acer rubrum), longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), pond pine (Pinus serotina), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), greenbrier (Smilax sp.), boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), and musky mint (Hyptis alata). The onsite uplands include a small area of improved pasture in the southeast corner of the property. There is an upland island within the onsite wetland that is best described as pine flatwoods habitat. The majority of the remaining onsite uplands would best be described as Pine-Mesic Oak.
The wetland systems on-site are of fairly good quality and diversity with little nuisance exotic vegetation present. The waters on-site flow south to Reedy Creek though a series of large canals which receive runoff from nearby residential and commercial developments. A large canal/ditch is present on the western portion of the property which draws water from the surrounding wetlands affecting hydrology patterns in the vicinity.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge clean fill material into 3.04 acre of waters of the United States to construct a single-family residential subdivision.
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: In reviewing the proposed plan, the applicant has reduced wetland impacts to the greatest extent possible. To do so, the applicant has explored various designs and performed an analysis of plan iterations and wetland impacts and mitigation as they relate to pro forma costs of the development plan.
Regarding wetland impact W-3, an upland island is associated with the subject property and the applicant proposes to place fill within W-3 to access the upland island. The island in question is 5.7 acres in size. The applicant’s original development plan proposed to access the island and consisted of standard fill road section with 3:1 slopes. The specific footprint for the crossing was selected to minimize wetland impacts by using the most-narrow location between the island and the uplands. The specific location limits impact to the hydrology as well as wildlife movement. The length of the
crossing, from upland to upland, ranges from 236 to 276 feet, depending on the specific location.
The engineering analysis shows that water flows exiting the box culvert under Reams Road continue southwest and do not turn to the northwest, towards the location of the crossing, thus eliminating any concerns related to flowage. Considering the size of that portion of wetland system located south of Reams Road, approximately 600 acres, and the generalized dimensions of the system, 5,500 feet by 4,500 feet, any level of impedance to wildlife movement should be considered negligible. The applicant has proposed adequate and appropriate culverting for water and wildlife movement to alleviate any potential negative impact from this proposed wetland impact.
The applicant has also explored the costs associated with utilizing a bridge crossing as opposed to a fill road. The cost difference between a fill section and bridge is eight fold and would in all likelihood render the entire project insurmountable. The crossing anticipated approximately 0.71 acres of direct wetland impact with an additional 0.40 acres of secondary impact. Two alternatives to the fill crossing were explored. The alternatives included a bridge over the wetland, as well as the elimination of tie-down grade for the fill section by using retaining walls. These alternatives were compared to the proposed design with considerations for cost, wildlife movement, maintenance, safety, and wetland impact footprint.
The proposed alternative will address the hydrologic and wildlife concerns as it relates to the crossing. The road crossing will have culverts that are appropriately sized to meet any flow requirements dictated by hydrologic modeling of this wetland. In addition, the applicant is providing an elevated crossing to facilitate wildlife movement under and/or around the roadway and away from potential conflicts with the road and/or development. It is anticipated that the proposed walls with appropriately sized culverts and the elevated culvert adequately address concerns regarding wildlife and hydrology.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: The applicant proposes to purchase federally approved mitigation bank credits.
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: The property is located within the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Consultation Area for the Eastern Indigo Snake, Wood Stork, Florida Scrub-jay, Crested Caracara, Everglades Snail Kite and Sand Skinks. The project site does not contain habitat suitable for Florida Scrub Jay, Crested Caracara, or Everglades Snail Kite. The applicant has completed a preliminary assessment of sand skink habitat and none were observed within the limits of the parcel. The site contains suitable soils and elevations for sand skinks but has a heavily canopied forested upland that is not suitable habitat for sand skink. The Corps has determined the proposed project would have no effect to the Florida Scrub Jay, Crested Caracara, Everglades Snail Kite, or sand skinks.
The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the August 13, 2013 updated addendum to the January 2010 North and South Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Eastern Indigo Snake. Use of the Key for the Eastern Indigo Snake resulted in the following sequential determination: A (The project is not located in open water or salt marsh.) >B (The permit will be conditioned for use of the Service’s Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake during site preparation and protection construction.) >C (There are gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities.) >D (The project will impact less than 25 acres of xeric habitat (scrub, sandhill, or scrubby flatwoods) or less than 25 active and inactive gopher tortoise burrows.) >E (Any permit will be conditioned such that all gopher tortoise burrows, active or inactive, will be evacuated prior to site manipulation in the vicinity of the burrow. If an indigo snake is encountered, the snake must be allowed to vacate the area prior to additional site manipulation in the vicinity. Any permit will also be conditioned such that holes, cavities, and snake refugia other than gopher tortoise burrows will be inspected each morning before planned site manipulation of a particular area, and, if occupied by an indigo snake, no work will commence until the snake has vacated the vicinity of proposed work) = Not Likely to Adversely Affect (NLAA) with the applicant adherence to the standard protection measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake. Based upon the NLAA determination for the Eastern Indigo Snake no further coordination is required.
The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the September 2008 North and Central Peninsular Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Wood Stork. Use of the Key for the Wood Stork resulted in the following sequential determination: A (Project is more than 2500 feet from a colony site.) > B (Project impacts SFH) >C (Impacts to SFH are greater than 0.5 acres) >D (Project impacts to SFH are within a Core Foraging Area.) >E (Project provides SFH compensation within the Service Area of a Service-approved wetland mitigation bank.) = NLAA. Based upon the NLAA determination for the Wood Stork no further coordination is required.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The project is in the upper reaches of an inland freshwater system in Orange County, Florida with no known essential marine fish habitat is present. A review of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) website does not indicate the presence of EFH within the project site.
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 Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926 within 21 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, Andrew Phillips, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (321)504-3803; or, by telephone at (321)504-3771 extension 14.
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.