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: Sandy Creek Investment Corporation
Attn: Mr. John Semanik
2120 Corporate Square Boulevard, Suite 3
Jacksonville, Florida 32216
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (wetlands) associated with Sampson Creek, which hydrologically connects to the
St. Johns River through Durbin Creek and Julington Creek; and, wetlands associated with Twelvemile Swamp, which hydrologically connects to the St. Johns River through Big Island Swamp, Whites Ford, and Trout Creek. The project site is located southeast of the intersection of Interstate 95 and County Road 210, immediately south of Sampson Creek, in Sections 21 and 28, Township 5 South, Range 28 East, Sampson, St. Johns County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.051881°
Basic: The basic project purpose is residential development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is the re-authorization of work (discharge of fill) associated with the Sandy Creek subdivision, which the Corps previously permitted.
a. The overall Sandy Creek property encompasses eight generalized vegetative communities identified by the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS). These communities include residential (FLUCFCS code 120), herbaceous dry prairies (FLUCFCS code 310), coniferous plantation (FLUCFCS code 441), wetland coniferous forest (FLUCFCS code 620), cypress (FLUCFCS code 621), hydric pine flatwoods (FLUCFCS code 625), slash pine swamp forest (FLUCFCS code 627), and vegetated non-forested wetlands (FLUCFCS code 640).
b. Residential, Medium Density (FLUCFCS code 120): These areas include the developed lands associated with the Sandy Creek subdivision.
c. Herbaceous Dry Prairie (FLUCFCS code 310): These areas appear to be pine plantation that has been harvested and not replanted. Broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus), redroot (Lachnanthes caroliniana), bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), localized saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), and various other grasses and sedges dominate these areas.
d. Coniferous Plantations (FLUCFCS code 441): This FLUCFCS classification represents the majority of the uplands encompassed by the property. Dominant vegetation includes slash pine (Pinus elliottii), gallberry (Ilex glabra), red maple (Acer rubrum), broomsedge, redroot, bracken fern, saw palmetto, and various other grasses and sedges.
e. Wetland Coniferous Forest (FLUCFCS code 620): Dominant vegetation within these wetland systems includes slash pine, cypress (Taxodium spp.), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora), myrtle leaf holly (Ilex myrtifolia), sawgrass (Cladium sp.), and chain fern (Woodwardia spp.).
f. Cypress (FLUCFCS code 621): A cypress canopy dominates these wetland areas. Cypress domes and extended cypress forests are scattered throughout the site.
g. Hydric Pine Flatwoods (FLUCFCS code 625): The majority of the areas supporting this community are located at the northern extent of the property. Slash pine, sawgrass, chain fern, cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), broomsedge, and other grasses and sedges dominate these communities.
h. Slash Pine Swamp Forest (FLUCFCS code 627): This FLUCFCS category represents the majority of the wetlands encompassed by the property. Slash pine, loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), swamp bay (Persea palustris), red maple, persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), sweet gum, cypress, black gum, wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), cinnamon fern, chain fern, and other ferns are commonly found in these wetlands.
i. Vegetated Non-Forested Wetlands (FLUCFCS code 640): These wetland areas support a diverse variety of herbaceous vegetation.
PROJECT HISTORY: The applicant previously obtained a Department of the Army permit to develop approximately 368 acres of land to establish a residential community identified as Sandy Creek. To facilitate that development, the applicant obtained authorization to eliminate a total of 17.86 acres of wetlands to establish residential parcels, infrastructure, and stormwater management ponds. As compensatory mitigation for the ecological impacts to wetlands that the Corps authorized, the applicant enhanced 10.07 acres of wetlands through the planting of various wetland hardwood species, such as, but not limited to, red maple (Acer rubrum), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), cypress (Taxodium spp.), ash (Fraxinus caroliniana), and blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora). The enhanced wetlands, an additional 140.74 acres of wetlands, and 10.2 acres of upland buffers were preserved in perpetuity through the execution of conservation easements. However, due to a previous decline in the national economy, the authorized work was not completed prior to the expiration of the Department of the Army permit.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to implement work to finish the development of the property. In order to accomplish this task, the applicant requests authorization to discharge clean fill material over a total of 3.92 acres of wetlands. The specific work entails the discharge of clean fill material over a total of 0.68 acres of wetlands to establish a multi-family component of the subdivision; and, the discharge of clean fill material over a total of 3.24 acres of wetlands to establish Phases 2D and 2E. This work is depicted on the project drawings.
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:
The applicant is not able to totally avoid work affecting wetlands due to the location, orientation, and size of the aquatic resources encompassed by the overall property. However, the applicant limited the proposed work areas to the minimum necessary to establish the project infrastructure and sufficient parcels to economically support the project. The applicant noted that the current proposal alters the previously authorized project design/layout; and, reduces the area of work affecting aquatic resources (the current proposal reduced the overall project impacts to wetlands).
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant completely implemented the compensatory mitigation requirements of the original authorization/permit. Therefore, the implementation of that compensatory mitigation plan fully offsets the loss of wetland functions and services associated with the work currently proposed. In consideration of that information, the applicant has not proposed additional compensatory mitigation for the project.
The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. During the evaluation of the original permit application, the Corps determined that the project would not affect any historic and/or cultural resources. However, 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.
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) could utilize the area encompassed by the project Endangered Species Act scope of analysis. The project site is approximately 12 miles from the Dee Dot Ranch Wood Stork colony (594004); and, within the Core Foraging Area of that colony. However, the project would affect less than 0.5 acre of suitable foraging habitat for Wood Storks. In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008, to determine potential effects upon this species. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for Wood Storks; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
The Corps executed a Resources At Risk (RAR) report encompassing the project site. The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species. The Corps also reviewed geospatial data and other available information. The Corps has not received or discovered any information that the project site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered 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. The project does not affect marine or estuarine habitat. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in the St. Johns River. Our final determination relative to project impacts and the need for mitigation measures is subject to review by and coordination 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. However, Corps personnel previously verified the jurisdictional line.
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 Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 within 15 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, Mark R. Evans, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232; by electronic mail at email@example.com; by facsimile transmission at (904)232-1940; or, by telephone at (904)232-2028.
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.