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: Ashley Bloom
Sperry Van Ness
2044 Constitution Blvd
Sarasota, FL 34231
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The Delray Linton Groves project would affect waters of the United States associated with wetlands and non-wetland waters (ditches). The project site (Parcel ID # 00404228000009000) is located in Section 28 & 33, Township 42S, Range 40E in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From US-441 turn west onto US-98/Southern Boulevard, then turn north on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road. Turn west on 60th Street N than turn north on Mandarin Boulevard. Turn west on Orange Boulevard/70th Road N and continue onto Louise Street for 0.5 miles.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Latitude: 26.780330 °
Basic: To develop a residential development
Overall: To develop a single family residential development in Loxahatchee, Florida
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The site is comprised of active and previously active agricultural operations. There is a homestead located in the northwest portion of the southern parcel, and other scattered areas with farm equipment and vehicles. Both cattle and horses were observed grazing on portions of the site. The site contains 8.24 acres of wetlands and 76.95 acres of surface waters (one pond + irrigation ditches).
Based on current site conditions, land cover classifications (Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCCS), Florida Department of Transportation, January 1999) are as follows:
Row Crops (FLUCCS 214, ± 465.86 acres) Row crops cover the majority of the southern portion of the site. Sugar cane is the main crop being produced. There is also tomato, pepper, squash and lettuce crops.
Tree Crops (FLUCCS, ±4.73 acres)
A tree crop production is present in the southern portion of the northern parcel. The two species observed in this area were laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia) and Queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana). It appears that this area is not maintained, and may not be in active production.
Other Open Lands (Rural) (FLUCCS 260, ±732.15 acres)
The majority of the northern portion of the site is former row crop fields. Based on field observations, it appears that some of the fields are mowed, while some are more overgrown with ruderal vegetation and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius). Plant species in these areas includes dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), ragweed (Ambrosia spp.), goldenrod (Astereae spp.), and beggar ticks (Bidens spp.).
Irrigation Ditches (FLUCCS 512, ±76.19 acres)
Irrigation ditches are spaced regularly throughout the site. These are likely the remnant of past agricultural practices throughout the site. The ditches are set up in a grid pattern throughout the site. The ditches in the southern portion of the site, surrounding the active agricultural areas were free of vegetation, while the ditches in the northern portions of the site were were often colonized by Brazilian pepper.
Pond (FLUCCS 535, ±0.76 acres)
A stormwater pond is present in the southwestern portion of the northern parcel. The banks were relatively steep, and the pond contained minor amounts of cattail (Typha latifolia), duck potato (Sagittaria latifolia), and hydrocotyl (Hydrocotyl spp.).
Exotic Wetland Hardwoods (FLUCCS 619, ±6.03)
The exotic wetland hardwood areas adjacent to the homestead in the northwestern portion of the southern parcel are comprised of exotic species such as Brazilian pepper and Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia). Herbaceous species included hydrocotyle, primrose willow, and duck potato. Standing water with depths of 2-6 inches was observed throughout this area.
Vegetated, Non-Forested Wetlands (FLUCCS 640, ±2.21 acres)
Vegetated, non-forested wetlands are present within the property, and correspond with areas of hydric soils mapped by NRCS. Vegetation in these areas includes primarily frog fruit (Phyla nodiflora) and various species of sedges (Cyperus spp.) and rushes (Juncus spp.).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill 2,000 cubic yards (0.38 acres) of wetlands and 53.52 acres of waters (10.93 acres of dredge; 42.59 acres of fill) of ditches) for construction of a single family residential development. The plan proposes to preserve the remaining 7.86 acres of wetlands and 23.43 acres of waters on site.
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 proposed development involves construction single family residential units, a pedestrian pathway and equestrian trail, a lake for stormwater management, and a woodstork habitat area. The site plan has been designed to minimize wetland impacts to the greatest extent possible and includes the preservation of 7.86 acres of wetlands on site. Additionally, the site plan proposes the creation of a ±27.2-acre wood stork foraging site to offset impacts on site.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant proposed to offset wetland impacts associated with project development by purchasing credits from the Loxahatchee Mitigation Bank. However, impacts to wood stork suitable foraging habitat (SFH) are proposed to be offset by the creation of a ±27.2-acre wood stork habitat area in the southern portion of the northern parcel.
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.
The Corps has determined the proposed project will have no effect on the Audubon’s Crested Caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii), Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), and the Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). The site does not contain habitat for these species and it is not designated critical habitat for these species.
The Corps has determined the proposed project “May Affect, but is Not Likely to Adversely Affect the wood stork (Mycteria americana). The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area of four (4) wood stork colonies; the project supports marginally Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for wood stork. Based on the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in South Florida (dated May 18, 2010), the Corps determination sequence was A>B>C>D>E=MANLAA. The project provides SFH compensation in accordance with the Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) guidelines and is not contrary to the habitat management guidelines. SFH compensation within the CFA provides and amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of impacted SFH; is not contrary to the Service’s Habitat Management Guidelines for The Wood Stork in The Southeast Regions and is in accordance with the CWA section 404(b)(1) guidelines.
The Corps has determined the proposed project is “May affect, not likely to adversely affect” the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi). Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Effect Determination Key (dated January 25, 2010; August 13, 2013 Addendum), the Corps determination sequence resulted in A>B>C>D>E= MANLAA. Marginal habitat was present on site, but no gopher tortoise burrows were observed. Holes, cavities, and snake refugia 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; the permittee agrees to use the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake (dated August 12, 2013).
The Corps will request consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife on the determination for the wood stork pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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 will be required from the South Florida Water Management District.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Blvd, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, 33410 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, Carolyn Farmer, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Blvd, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, 33410; by electronic mail at email@example.com; by facsimile transmission at (561) 626-6791; or, by telephone at (561) 472-3527.
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.