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: Richard W. Whitcomb
724 West Ponce De Leon Avenue
150 S.E. 2nd Avenue, Suite #800
Decatur, GA 30030-2954
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Florida Bay. The project site is located on an undeveloped lot at 3206 Catherine Road; legally described as Part of Govt. Lot 2, H3-32 , Big Torch Key, in Section 19, Township 66 South, Range 29 East; Big Torch Key, Monroe County, Florida 33042 (Re # 00112920-000200) (MM± 27.8). The project has been assigned permit application number SAJ-2016-03240 (SP-GGM), which should be referenced on all future correspondence.
From Miami drive south on U.S. 1 to approximately mile marker 27.8, turn right at Middle Torch Road, follow the road for approximately 2 miles; turn left at Dorn Road which becomes Big Torch Key Road, follow the road to the end and then turn left at Catherine Street. The project site will be at the end of the dirt road at 3206 Catherine Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Latitude: 24.6885º North
Longitude: -81.42563º West
Basic: The basic purpose is to construct a single family residence (SFR) with its associated appurtenances.
Overall: The overall purpose is to construct a single family residence (SFR) with its associated appurtenances in Big Torch Key, Monroe County, Florida.
The project parcel is approximately 1.93 acres on size and is within an undeveloped rural area of Big Torch Key; however there is another single family residence adjacent to the proposed project area. The project site is comprise of both native mangrove and salt marsh wetland habitats. The area proposed for impact is restricted to the the most disturbed wetland areas and to an upland area disturbed with historical fill material. The property has a direct hydrological connection to Niles Channel within the Florida Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Multiple seashore bird species such as the, Heron, Reddish egret and Osprey were observed utilizing the site during the Corps site inspection. No impact of the dense red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) and black mangrove (Avicennia germinnans) dominated shoreline is proposed at this time.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place 614 cubic yards (y³) of clean fill material within 7,246.87-square feet (ft²) of jurisdictional saltmarsh wetland areas for the construction of a single family residence (SFR) and its associated appurtenances, including a pool and deck, a swale, a detached garage, and the installation of 2’ to 3’ diameter boulder retaining wall with filter cloth and bedding stone. A temporary silt fence is proposed to be installed to prevent fill displacement into adjacent wetland areas. Work is proposed in U.S. navigable waters in accordance with the enclosed site plans (7 pages).
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 has designed the project to reduce wetland impacts by restricting the area of impact to upland areas and to the most disturbed wetland range. Additionally, the applicant proposes to preserve and avoid impacts to .45 acres of dense mangrove shoreline and 1.42 acres of undisturbed saltmarsh wetland areas within the parcel. Additionally, erosion control measures, such a riprap retaing wall and silt fence, will be installed in order to minimize potential secondary impacts to adjacent wetland areas.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
If compensatory mitigation is required, the appropriate number of mitigation credits shall be purchased from the Keys Restoration Fund (KRF). The functional assessment associated with this in-lieu-fee is the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM), which will be used to derive the appropriate mitigation 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 parcel is on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Suitable Habitat List for Monroe County for the Silver rice rat species and critical habitat focus area, the Lower Keys marsh rabbit focus area and the endangered Key Deer focus area.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect (“MANLAA”) the threatened Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) and the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus).
Additionally, the Corps has determined the project may affect the Lower Keys marsh rabbit (LKMR) (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri), the Silver rice rat (Oryzomys palustris natator) and its critical habitat, and the Key Deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium). The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with these determinations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined that the project will have “no effect” on any other listed threatened or endangered species, and/or designated critical habitat. Pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, no further consultation is required.
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 proposal would impact approximately 7,246.87 ft² of disturbed saltmarsh wetland resources utilized by various life stages of terrestrial species considered essential habitat for federally managed species and associated species as identified by the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, including coastal migratory species. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Florida Keys. 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. 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 Miami Permits Section, 9900 Southwest 107th Avenue, Suite 203, Miami, Florida, 33176, within 21 days from the date of this notice (i.e. on or before March 15, 2017).
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, Gletys Guardia-Montoya at the letterhead address, by electronic mail at Gletys.Guardia-Montoya@usace.army.mil, or by telephone at 305-526-2515.
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.