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: Cypress Preserve 841, LLC
c/o Mr. Ali Hasbini
3658 Erindale Drive
Valrico, FL 33594
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with an unnamed tributary of the Pithlachascotee River. The project site is located on the west side of US-41, approximately one-quarter mile south of SR-52 in Land O’ Lakes, in Sections 16 and 17, Township 25 South, Range 18 East, Pasco County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the intersection of SR-52 and US-41 in Land
O’ Lakes, proceed south on US-41 for approximately one-half mile. Turn right (west)
onto Keene Road and proceed to its terminus.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Residential development
Overall: To construct a residential development within the Central Market Area of
Pasco County, Florida.
NOTE: The Corps previously received two separate applications for this project area and issued two separate public notices. The Corps’ public notice dated August 18, 2015, for SAJ-2015-02216 included the southern portion of the site, formerly referred to as “Lester Dairy.” The Corps’ public notice dated November 30, 2015, for SAJ-2015-02217 included the northern portion of the site, formerly referred to as “FCI.” The two project areas are now combined in one application under the number SAJ-2015-02216 and the applicant is Cypress Preserve, 841, LLC.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The overall project area is 454.34 acres. The northern project area is currently under agricultural use for hay production and was historically used as a citrus grove as recently as the late 1970s. The site contains approximately 55.81 acres of wetlands and 2.56 acres of other waters. The project wetlands consist primarily of cypress wetlands associated with tributaries of the Pithlachascotee River. The wetlands have been altered, ditched, and drained to varying degrees by land management and agricultural practices. Wetlands A, C, and D are dominated by pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) or bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) and the majority of the community structure is relatively undisturbed. Wetland D was rim-ditched in the early 1960s in order to control drainage in the citrus groves and intercept overflow from the wetlands. Wetland A shows signs of past disturbance in the western portion of the wetland and some invasive plant species such as primrose willow (Ludwidgia peruviana) have become established. Review of historic aerial photography shows evidence of excavation and filling. Wetlands A and F have been impacted by the construction of an access road that divides the two wetlands. There is evidence of dredging in the wetland on either side of the access road. Other vegetation present in the cypress systems consists of soft rush (Juncus effuses), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), cattail (Typha latifolia), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), red maple (Acer rubrum), and Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana).
This northern area also contains shallow agricultural ditches that were excavated in order to drain wetlands and control flooding. They are scattered throughout the upland pastures and may contain standing water for limited periods following rainfall. Some of the ditches are 3-4 feet in depth and connect wetland areas or serve as rim-ditches to move water around wetlands. Based on review of historical aerial photographs, it appears that most of the ditching and wetland alteration occurred during the early 1950’s in order to prepare the upland areas for citrus cultivation. Surface Water SW-C is an open water feature that appears to have been excavated in uplands. The Pasco County soil survey indicates the pond is located in a soil type that also encompasses large areas of the hay fields. The water depth is 6 feet or greater with very little emergent vegetation. The pond slide slopes are less than 2:1 and indicative of land excavation. The majority of the project uplands consist of well-maintained grass fields utilized for hay production. There are several agricultural drainage swales located in the uplands. The hay fields are dominated by bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) and Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactyloides).
The southern project area is currently being operated as a dairy. The site contains approximately 129.27 acres of cypress and herbaceous wetlands and 2.74 acres of other waters. A large portion of the existing herbaceous wetlands on the project site were formerly cypress-dominated systems that were either logged or experienced tree mortality due to alterations in wetland hydrology. The majority of the uplands consist of improved pasture. The site is bordered by residential development to the south and by improved pasture and wetlands elsewhere.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to impact 9.34 acres of wetlands and 3.50 acres of surface waters for the construction of a residential development. Work is proposed in accordance with the attached site plans.
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 following information is provided in order to provide assurance that the project has been designed to avoid wetland impacts to the fullest extent practicable and to then minimize wetland impacts to the fullest extent practicable. Wetland impacts have been avoided except where necessary to achieve the project purpose and to provide for project recreational and site amenities, transportation improvements, and stormwater management facilities. Some wetland impacts were unavoidable due to regulatory and planning constraints imposed by local government mandates regarding transportation improvements and regional planning, in particular those impacts that will result from the extension of Bulloch Boulevard through the project and the construction of the east-west collector road.
Transportation Impacts: The applicant is required to construct Bulloch Boulevard through the project as part of the conditions in the Lester Dairy and FCI MPUD. The developer is required by Pasco County to dedicate right of way and provide for all drainage and other appurtenances for a 4-lane divided urban roadway. The road is to be constructed from the southern boundary of the project to the intersection with the proposed east-west collector road. North of the intersection with the east-west collector, the proposed extension of Bulloch Boulevard extends through property outside of the project area. The developer will be required to construct an east-west collector road from US Highway 41 to the western boundary of the project. The road has been aligned in order to minimize the impact to Wetlands A and F. Previous alignments as shown on the Pasco County Comprehensive Plan Transportation Element, Map 7-36, Highway Vision Plan, showed the east-west collector road located within the Lester Dairy project, south of the FCI project. The developer has negotiated an agreement with Pasco County to shift the alignment of the east-west collector road to the north. This results in a significant decrease in potential wetland impacts within the Lester Dairy project as well future environmental impacts, should the east-west collector road be extended to the west. The agreement with Pasco County also allows the east-west collector road to be located in a previously disturbed portion of Wetland A and F. The alignment of Bulloch Boulevard was also modified as part of the agreement with Pasco County in order to minimize impacts within the Lester Dairy project as well as minimizing impacts to Wetlands within the FCI project. An exhibit has been provided in order to show the modified road alignments.
Residential Development Impacts: The remaining wetland impacts are associated with residential lots, local streets, utility infrastructure, and stormwater management facilities. The wetlands being impacted have all been adversely affected to varying degree by ditching and grazing. It would not be possible to integrate these wetlands into the post-development setting. Avoiding the impacts would reduce unit yield and disrupt development patterns. Realigning streets to avoid or reduce the impacts would also result in a loss of developable acreage and increase development costs. All these factors would also reduce residential density and negatively affect the economic viability of the project. The applicant has made an effort to avoid and minimize the impacts to aquatic resources to the fullest extent practicable and to preserve the large, high value wetland systems within the project. The project design integrates the stormwater and mitigation plans so that overall water quality will be enhanced. Excess nutrient loading to wetlands will be reduced by the removal of cattle, removal of the existing dairy operation, and the addition of stormwater treatment systems. Wetland hydrology will be enhanced by the elimination of the extensive ditching and draining that has occurred.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant proposes to perform on-site permittee-responsible mitigation consisting of wetland creation and enhancement.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps has determined the project will have no adverse effects to historic properties listed, or eligible for listing, on the National Register of Historic Places. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) responded to the previous public notices referenced above and concurred with this determination by letters dated December 18, 2015, and July 15, 2016.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork (Mycteria americana) or the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). The Corps has programmatic concurrence with these determinations via the Wood Stork Key and the Eastern Indigo Snake Key.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The project is located in freshwater wetlands and is not in the vicinity of EFH. No effects to EFH are anticipated.
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: The applicant received Environmental Resource Permit No. 49042284.001 from the Southwest Florida Water Management District on March 10, 2017.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, FL 33610 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, Jessica Cordwell, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120 Tampa, Florida 33610, by telephone at (813)769-7067, by fax at (813)769-7061, or by electronic mail at Jessica.L.Cordwell@usace.army.mil.
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, aesthetics, 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.
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.