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: Charles P. Lewis, Jr., Deputy Director
Panama City Port Authority
One Seaport Drive
Panama City, Florida 32401
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect unnamed waters of the United States associated with Bayou George and the St. Andrew’s Bay watershed. The project site is located at 7701 Commerce Boulevard in Section 35 Township 2 South, Range 12/13 West, Panama City, Bay County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take U.S. Highway 231 North for 12 miles from downtown Panama City. Turn right onto Commerce Boulevard.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.27149º
Basic: Commercial and industrial development.
Overall: The purpose of this project is to construct the Panama City Port Authority - Intermodal Distribution Center to provide relocation opportunities for special industry and enhance economic opportunities within Bay County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The 1,552.6-acre project area consists of 806.9 acres of wetlands and 745.7 acres of uplands. The wetland systems consist of manmade ditches, mixed forested wetlands, titi swamps, cypress swamps, and wet prairie. The onsite wetland vegetation consists of sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), swamp tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora), swamp bay (Persea palustris), pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens), and slash pine (Pinus ellottii). Understory shrub species includes buckwheat titi (Cliftonia monophylla), cyrilla (Cyrilla racemiflora), sweet gallberry (Ilex coriacea), odorless wax myrtle (Myrica inodorata), and gallberry (Ilex glabra). Upland vegetation consists of pine plantation species such as slash pine, yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), gallberry (Ilex glabra), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera) and bracken fern (Pteridium aqualinum).
Based on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Soil Survey of Escambia County, the soils in this basin within county right-of-way (R/W) predominately consist of the following soils:
• Albany Sand, 0-2% slopes (A/D)
• Blanton F. Sand (A)
• Leon Sand (A/D)
• Stilson Sand, 0-5% slopes (A)
• Hurricane Sand (A)
• Alapaha Loamy Sand (B/D)
• Rutledge – Pamlico Complex (A/D)
In general, the dominant drainage pattern is from south to north. The existing drainage pattern currently sheet flows to adjacent unnamed wetlands onsite. Bayou George and Bear Creek are the primary waterbodies located south and north, respectively, of the project limits. Bayou George and Bear Creek ultimately discharge into Deer Point Lake. In addition, there are no Outstanding Florida Waters within the project limits. There are existing drainage structures and attenuation ponds as the current development has been partially constructed.
The existing area surrounding the project area consists of coniferous plantation (silviculture), commercial, and industrial.
PROPOSED WORK: The original authorization, dated February 14, 2005, included filling 124.04 acres of jurisdictional wetlands for a commercial and industrial development. On-site compensatory mitigation included preservation, enhancement, and restoration of 682.5 acres of wetlands. On September 25, 2006, a modification was issued to fill approximately 4,000 square feet of jurisdictional impacts to install a culvert for an access road. On January 13, 2011, a modification was issued to extend the authorization for 5 years, replace permit drawings due to discovery of a property boundary change in the development and mitigation areas and modifying the mitigation success criteria to provide for consistency, consolidate desirable goals and simplify monitoring methods and reports was received. The revised impact and mitigation acreage are 124.93 acres of wetland impacts and 657.83 acres of on-site compensatory mitigation.
The site has been partially constructed under those permits. 54.22 acres of wetland impacts have occurred. The on-site compensatory mitigation was initiated and 3 monitoring reports have been completed.
The applicant seeks re-authorization to fill the remaining 70.71 acres of wetlands. The project involves the construction of three 1,000,000 square-foot buildings, one 250,000 square-foot building and associated parking for these facilities, railroad and roads to service the buildings and stormwater facilities. Other infrastructure development includes sewer lines, gas lines, fiber optic lines, and water lines.
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:
During the project planning phase, the development layout was determined initially based on available data such as aerial photographs. Subsequent field evaluations resulted in modifications to the development to minimize or avoid effects to sensitive features discovered in the field, where feasible. For example, this project development was designed to avoid affecting high-quality wetlands by locating proposed impacts in previously disturbed wetland areas, i.e. logging roads and silviculture, where feasible. Once alternative development has been revised to provide the least effects within the criteria established for safe roadway and development design, a comparison of the proposed effects occurs to determine the most favorable development. To minimize direct effects, a number of design and construction limitations are proposed. The following minimization recommendations were incorporated into the roadway design: water quality treatment through appropriate stormwater management, guardrails that decrease the development footprint, installation of low-water crossings to maintain flow and hydrology, limiting clearing and grubbing, and employment of best management practices during construction.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The mitigation of wetland impacts for the project would be accomplished by establishing on-site mitigation in the eastern portion of the project site and includes preservation, enhancement, and restoration of 657.83 acres of on-site freshwater wetlands and 481 acres of upland habitat.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: Through the previous authorization process, a Cultural Resource Assessment Survey was performed on the project site in May and June 2003 to determine the existence and significance of historical or archaeological resources on the site. Two previously unrecorded archaeological sites were identified as not constituting significant cultural resources. The Assessment further determined that proposed construction activities would have no effect on properties listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, or of historical or archaeological value. The Florida Division of Historical Resources has concurred with these findings.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: Through the previous authorization process, the Corps determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) or the flatwoods salamander. By email dated February 7, 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with the Corps determination.
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 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 Panama City Permits Section, 1002 West 23rd Street, Suite 350, Panama City, Florida 32405 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, Mrs. Lisa S. Lovvorn, in writing at the Panama City Permits Section, 1002 West 23rd Street, Suite 350, Panama City, Florida 32405; by electronic mail at email@example.com; by facsimile transmission at (850)872-0231; or, by telephone at (850)763-0717, extension 27.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Preliminary review of this application indicates that an Environmental Impact Statement will not be required. 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. By means of this notice, we are soliciting comments on the potential effects of the project on threatened or endangered species or their habitat
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 of 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 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 decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act 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.