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SAJ-1997-05999-(SP-RMT)

Published April 11, 2017
Expiration date: 5/2/2017

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Jacksonville District has received an application for a Department of the Army (DA) permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:

APPLICANT: Siesta V. Land Trust
                      c/o Chris Claussen
                      2134 Sevilla Way
                      Naples, FL 34109

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project site is located north of San Carlos Island on the west side of San Carlos Boulevard in Sections 12 and 13, Township 46 South, Range 23 East, Lee County, Florida. The project is within the Estero Bay Frontal Watershed (10-HUC # 0309020401) and would affect tidal waters of Matanzas Pass which is confluent with the Gulf of Mexico.

Directions to the site are as follows: In Fort Myers, take US 41 to Gladiolus Drive, turn west to Summerlin Road, turn south to San Carlos Boulevard, turn west to Siesta Drive, turn south to Old Pelican Bay Drive and proceed to the site.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude: 26.472816º
                                                                         Longitude: -81.957303º

PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic: Housing.

Overall: Construct an upscale, water front, single-family residential development with associated infrastructure in coastal southwest Lee County, Florida.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The 110.37± acre site consists of 6.46± acres of uplands and 103.91± acres of combined wetlands and other waters of the US. Included in the jurisdictional waters of the project site are 2.89± acres of tidal creek and flats, 10.74± acres of tidal canal, 4.30± acres of tidal embayment and pond, 85.06± acres of mangrove wetlands and 0.92± acre of highly disturbed wetlands. Uplands and wetlands within the project footprint are infested to varying degrees with exotic vegetation such as Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), Australian pine (Casuarina equisetifolia), and earleaf acacia (Acacia auriculiformis).

PROJECT/FILE HISTORY: Siesta V is part of the original Siesta Isles development, which was initially constructed in the 1960s. During that time, the finger canals were dredged and the spoil was used to create residential lots with boating access. The eastern canals and lots retain the Siesta Isles name while the westernmost canal and lots are now known as Old Pelican Bay.

The Corps issued a permit (File # SAJ-1997-5999) on 11 September 2009, to Siesta V. Land Trust authorizing to clear, grade, dredge, excavate and fill wetlands to construct a 28 unit residential subdivision and an access road at the project site. No construction occurred and the permit expired on 11 September 2014. This applicant is requesting re-authorization of the previously authorized project.

PROPOSED WORK: Clear, grade, excavate, dredge and fill to construct and maintain an upscale residential development with an access road, driveways and other associated infrastructure. The proposed project would discharge approximately 19,360 cubic yards of fill material into 3.00± acres of tidal wetlands and discharge 2,614 cubic yards of fill material into 0.36± acre of other waters of the US. The proposed project would impact mangroves wetlands that have varying degrees exotic infestation, such as Brazilian pepper, Australian pine, and earleaf acacia.

AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION: The applicant states the following in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment:

The applicant has owned the parcel for almost 40 years. The applicant considered several other potential sites as a part of the avoidance and minimization analysis for this project. The site selection criteria for the development was based on several factors including site location, size and configuration, usable acreage (uplands vs. wetlands), and economic factors including location based on transportation accessibility and support services. The project would permanently impact 3.0+ acres (3.5%) of the existing 85.06+ acres of mangrove wetlands on site. The wetlands selected to be impacted are disturbed and provide lower functions and values than the 82.06+ acres of wetlands to be preserved.

The project design over the years has been revised to avoid and minimize wetland impacts. The initial site plan, submitted in 1999, proposed 47 single-family lots impacting 8.24± acres of wetlands, 0.56± acre of other waters of the US and included a number of boat docks. The 2003 revised plan reduced the lot count to 41 reducing wetland impacts to 7.16± acres and 0.81± acre of other waters of the US. The current site plan, previously authorized by the Corps, is for 28 single-family lots, no docks, and would impact 3.00± acres of wetlands and 0.36± acre of other waters of the US.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: A wetland functional assessment was conducted for the project using the current Little Pine Island Mitigation Bank (LPIMB) method. It was determined that 1.01 wetland functional units would offset the proposed wetland impacts. The applicant had already purchased 1.33 credits for the original permit issued in September 2009. No wetland impacts occurred under that permit and the 1.33 credits remain valid for compensating the current reauthorization request. No additional credits are proposed to be purchased. The remaining wetlands on the site have been protected under a conservation easement that has been granted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is unaware of any known historic properties within the review area. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts is subject to review by and coordination with SHPO and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the area under review by the Corps, for this proposal.

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT (ESA): The project site is within a consultation area for the Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), an ESA listed species. The Florida scrub jay lives only in scrub and scrubby flatwoods habitats found on nearly pure, excessively well-drained sandy soils. Scrub jay habitat is dominated by a layer of evergreen oaks [myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia) and/or Archbold oak (Q. inopina), sand live oak (Q. geminata), Chapman oak (Q. chapmanii), and runner oak (Q. minima)], rusty lyonia (Lyonia ferruginea), and Florida rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides). Ground cover is sparse, dominated by saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and sand palmetto (Sabal etonia). (http://www.fws.gov/northflorida//Species-Accounts/Fla-Scrub-Jay-2005.htm 10/22/2015) The onsite habitats are not ones preferred by the scrub jay; therefore, the Corps preliminary determination is that the proposal “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA) the Florida scrub jay. The Corps will request concurrence from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS), for this determination, via a separate letter.

The project site contains suitable foraging habitat for the wood stork ((Mycteria americana) and is within a wood stork core foraging area (CFA). In accordance with the South Florida Programmatic Wood Stork Key the proposal keys as follows: A., B., C., E. The applicant purchased 1.33 wetland credits from the LPIMB to compensate for the proposed wetland impacts. In addition, a total of 82.8± acres of wetlands and other waters (mostly mangroves) have been placed under a recorded conservation easement granted to the FDEP. In accordance with the key the project MANLAA the wood stork and no further consultation with the FWS is required for this species.

The project site is within a consultation area for the piping plover (Charadrius melodus), an ESA listed species. Plovers depart for the wintering grounds from mid-July through late October. Piping plovers winter along South Atlantic, Gulf Coast, Caribbean beaches and barrier islands, primarily on intertidal beaches with sand and/or mud flats with no or very sparse vegetation. Wintering plovers feed on exposed wet sand in wash zones; intertidal ocean beach; wrack lines; wash-over passes; mud, sand, and algal flats; and shorelines of streams, ephemeral ponds, lagoons, and salt marshes by probing for invertebrates at or just below the surface. They use beaches adjacent to foraging areas for roosting and preening. Small sand dunes, debris, and sparse vegetation within adjacent beaches provides shelter from wind and extreme temperatures. (http://www.fws.gov/plover/facts.html 10/21/2015) The Corps preliminary determination is that the project MANLAA the piping plover. The Corps will request concurrence from the FWS for this determination via a separate letter.

The project site is within an area where West Indian manatees (Tricheus manatus) are known to occur; an area designated as an Important Manatee Area (IMA). Use of the Florida Manatee Key, April 2013, resulted in A., B., C., D., G., N., O., and P. The project is other than repair or rehabilitation of a multi-slip facility, a new multi-slip facility, residential dock facility, shoreline stabilization or dredging, and does not directly provide new access for watercraft or increase existing watercraft access usage. In accordance with the key the project MANLAA the manatee and further consultation with the FWS is not required.

The project site is within a FWS designated consultation area for the Florida bonneted bat [FBB (Eumops floridanus)]. In accordance with the FBB effects determination guidelines the proposal keys as follows: 1, 2, C. The project is greater than 5 acres and includes more than 1 acre of potential FBB habitat type. The applicant’s agent conducted an acoustic survey for the FBB during the month of July 2016. The acoustical survey did not find any FBB occurring at the site. Based on the survey results the Corps will request concurrence, with a preliminary MANLAA determination, from the FWS via a separate letter.

The project site is located in an area where the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempil) and loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) may occur. The Smalltooth Sawfish and Sea Turtles Protection Conditions would be incorporated into the Corps permit (if issued). The Corps preliminary determination is that the proposed activity “is not likely to adversely affect” sea turtles and will request concurrence from the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS), for these determinations, via a separate letter.

The project is located in an area containing smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinate) NMFS designated critical habitat (CH). The project would directly impact a combined 3.36+ acres of mangrove wetlands and other tidal waters. The Corps has determined that the project “may affect” the smalltooth sawfish and pursuant to Section 7 of ESA the Corps will request the NMFS to initiate Formal Consultation, via a separate letter.

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 permanently impact approximately 3.36+ acres of tidal habitat utilized by various life stages of red drum, shrimp, and snapper complex. Our initial determination is that the proposed action may have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico. 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 (PN) is being issued based on information furnished by the applicant. This information has not been verified or evaluated to ensure compliance with laws and regulations governing the regulatory program. The current jurisdictional line has not been formally verified by Corps personnel.

AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or 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 Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida, 33919, within 21 days from the date of this PN.

The decision of whether to issue or deny a permit for this application will be based on the information received in response to this PN and the evaluation of the probable impacts 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 submitted in writing to the project manager, Robert Tewis, by mail to the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Boulevard Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919; or via email at robert.m.tewis@usace.army.mil; or faxed to (239)-334-0797. Phone number is (239)-334-1975 X-0012.

IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with the FWS, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NMFS, 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 of whether to issue a permit will be based on the evaluation of probable impacts including cumulative effects 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 EPA Administrator, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act and/or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be authorized unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.

The Corps is soliciting comments, to this PN, 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.