TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: This district 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: Flora Ridge Development
4100 Canoe Creek Road
St. Cloud, Florida 34772
WATERWAY & LOCATION: The Flora Ridge Development project would affect waters of the United States that connect to Shingle Creek. The project site is situated south of West Osceola Parkway, east of Dyer Boulevard and west of North John Young Parkway in Section 5, Township 25S, Range 29E, Osceola County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From Jacksonville take I-95 south and exit onto Interstate 4 and proceed southwest to Orlando and exit onto Apopka-Vineland Road and go south to West Osceola Parkway and then proceed east to Dyer Boulevard and the project location.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES
Latitude 28.34047 North
Longitude -81.42827 West
Basic: Retail Shopping Center
Overall: Large scale retail shopping center to serve a large number of households in both Orange and Osceola Counties and with close proximity to other retail facilities and a major roadway network.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The 50 acre property is primarily a remnant cattle pasture
surrounded by urban development and consists of grazed grasslands with shrub wetlands (3.4 acres), cypress wetlands (1.9 acres), herbaceous wetlands (0.80) and a surface water ditch (0.06) that connects to offsite surface waters and wetlands. The Corps has not verified jurisdiction or the landward extent of wetlands and surface waters.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant proposes to construct the Flora Ridge project by dredging and filling 6.1 acres of wetlands and 0.06 acres of surface water ditches.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION: The applicant has provided the following information in regards to the on-site wetlands: The on-site wetlands represent a significant obstacle to developing a site plan that works for an intense retail development because the wetlands would block visibility, affect access, reduce connectivity between various retail components, and, in general, work against the success of the shopping mall. In the post-development condition a small buffer would not be enough to allow these wetlands to survive, and they would become a magnet for exotic species that require perpetual maintenance. Therefore the Flora Ridge project plans to maximize the 50.0 acre site to develop a shopping plaza.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset the loss of 5.3 acres of Corps jurisdictional wetlands: The purchase of 2.31 federal WRAP credits from an approved Mitigation Bank.
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 applicant indicates wildlife surveys were conducted in October 2015 and February 2016 and no federally listed endangered or threatened species were observed. The property is located within the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Consultation Area for the Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway audubonii), Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Florida Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), Red Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis). Based on applicant’s wildlife surveys, habitat preferences for these species, location of the project site and surrounding development the Corps has determined that the project would have no effect on these species. Our final determination is subject to review by the FWS.
The Corps also completed an evaluation of the project based upon the May 18, 2010 South Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). Use of the Key for the Wood Stork resulted in the following sequential determination: A (Project impacts SFH greater than 0.47 miles from a colony site) >B (Impacts to SFH is greater than 0.5 acres) > C ( Project impacts to SFH within a CFA of a colony site)> D (Project provides compensation within a service approved wetland mitigation bank, and habitat compensation replaces the foraging
value matching the hydroperiod of the wetlands affected and provides foraging value similar to, or higher than, that of impacted wetlands) = Not Likely to Adversely Affect (NLAA). Based upon the NLAA determination for the Wood Stork no further coordination is required.
The Corps also 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 (Drymarchon corais couperi). 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 no gopher tortoise burrows, hole, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities.) = (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.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The project involves impacts to freshwater forested/herbaceous wetlands within an interior county. A review of the National Marine Fisheries Service EFH Habitat Protection Mapper Web site the project does not occur in the vicinity of EFH designated by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council of NMFS. The Corps has determined that the proposed project will not have an impact on EFH.
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.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: The project is currently under review by the South Florida Water Management District and Osceola County, Florida.
COMMENTS regarding the application should be submitted in writing to the District Engineer at the above address 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.
If you have any questions concerning this application, you may contact Jim Carr at the letterhead address, by electronic mail at email@example.com , or by telephone at 321-504-3771, extension 26.
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.