Public Notice Notifications

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Florida - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the State of Florida.

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SAJ-2017-01305 (SP-AWP)

Published April 13, 2017
Expiration date: 5/4/2017
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: School Board of Osceola County
Attn: Marc Clinch
817 Bill Beck Blvd.
Kissimmee, Florida 34744

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Kissimmee chain of Lakes. The project site is located south of the Arthur J Gallagher Blvd., in Section 31, Township 26 South, Range 32 East, Osceola County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: From the intersection of US Highway 192 and Arthur J Gallagher Blvd. proceed south on Arthur J Gallagher to its terminus. The project site is located south of the terminus, immediately south of the high school ball fields.

Longitude -81.1529


Basic: Institutional

Overall: Construction a middle school, including all necessary infrastructure and stormwater management, to serve the Harmony Community and surrounding areas, Osceola County, Florida.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site contains a mixture of palustrine forested and non-forested wetlands. The wetlands have been characterized using the Florida Land Cover Classification System and are described below.

620 – Wetland Coniferous Forests: Approximately 4.61 acres of the onsite wetlands consist of this forested community type. The canopy within this wetland contains a mixture of pond cypress, slash pine, and pond pine , and some loblolly bay. Understory and groundcover species include peelbark St. Johns wort, wax myrtle, swamp bay, cinnamon fern, Virginia chain fern, pipeworts, bog-bachelor button, patches of saw palmetto, and various other wetland grasses and sedges.

625 – Hydric Pine Flatwoods: This wetland plant community comprises 3.33 acres of the onsite area. They are characterized by a dense canopy of slash pine, with a dense shrub understory of wax myrtle, saw palmetto, cinnamon fern, dahoon holly, and groundcover consistent with the adjacent wetland plant community.

643 – Wet Prairies: The wet prairie plant community represents 3.46 acres of the project site, and is located within three separate areas. These areas appear to have historically consisted of hydric pine flatwoods, but were subjected to extensive logging activities in the mid-late 1990s. They are characterized by having sparse, immature pond cypress, slash pine, and loblolly bay; with shrub species consisting of wax myrtle, salt bush, peelbark St. Johns wort, saw palmetto, and blackberry. Groundcover species include chalky bluestem, maidencane, Virginia chain fern, wiregrass, hatpins, bog-bachelor buttons, flat sedge (Cyperus spp.), beaked sedge, hooded pitcher plan, sphagnum moss, and various other wetland grasses and sedges.

The abutting uplands include:

321 – Palmetto Prairies: Palmetto prairies represent the dominant upland community type, comprising 20.34 acres of the total onsite area. Dominant vegetation within this community type includes saw palmetto, wiregrass, tarflower, gallberry, bushy bluestem,
blackberry, scrub St. Johns wort, Elliott’s milk pea; as well as scattered longleaf pine, slash pine, and immature Chapman oaks.

421 – Xeric Oak: Approximately 1.67 acres of the project site are comprised of this upland plant community. These areas contain sandy, well drained soils and a low, dense canopy/shrub layer. Dominant tree/shrub species include Chapman oak, sand live oak, saw palmetto, tarflower, scrub St. Johns wort, Elliott’s milk pea, cogon grass, and various other native scrub species.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge clean fill material into 6.51 acres of waters of the United States to construct a middle school, including all necessary infrastructure and stormwater management.

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 initial site plan for the Harmony Middle School site that was prepared the project's architect proposed for the removal of all of the onsite wetlands. In working with the project's engineers and environmental consultants, two alternative site plans were developed to provide for some preservation of wetlands and upland buffers in the post-development condition. The preferred alternative involved the removal of one proposed ball field, reduced wetland impacts, and resulted in the preservation of the higher quality portions of the onsite wetlands.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: Mitigation to offset the 3.98 units of functional loss will be provided through the purchase of 3.98 mitigation credits at a federally approved mitigation bank whose service area includes the project site.

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 property is located within the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) consultation area for the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), wood stork (Mycteria americana), Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii), Everglades snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), and red cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). The project site does not contain habitat suitable for the Audubon’s crested caracara, Everglades Snail Kite, or the Florida grasshopper sparrow.

The project site does not contains pine trees capable of providing habitat for the red cockaded wood pecker; however, large longleaf and slash pine trees are located immediately east of the project site. Visual surveys of mature pines immediately adjacent to the property were conducted to determine if any represented active cavity trees. No cavity trees or woodpeckers were identified during field reviews. The closest documented occurrence of this species is approximately eleven (11) miles southeast of the project site.

The project site contains suitable habitat for the Florida scrub-jay. Formal surveys for the Florida scrub-jay were completed by Austin Environmental Consulting biologists in March 2017. The surveys were performed in accordance with the Florida Scrub-jay Survey Protocol (USFWS, 2004). The formal surveys did not identify scrub jays within the action area.

The Corps 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. 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 gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities.) >D (The project will impact less than 25 acres of xeric habitat (scrub, sandhill, or scrubby flatwoods) = not likely to adversely affect (NLAA). With an outcome of "no effect" or "NLAA" as outlined in key, the requirements of section 7 of the Act are fulfilled for the eastern indigo snake and no further action is required.

The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the May 2010 South Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Wood Stork. Use of the Key for the Wood Stork resulted in the following sequential determination: A (Project impacts Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) at a location greater than 0.47 mile from a colony site.) > B (Project impact to SFH is greater in scope than one-half acre) >C (Project impacts to SFH within the CFA of a colony site) >D (Project impacts to SFH are within a Core Foraging Area.) > E (Project provides SFH compensation within the Service Area of a Service-approved wetland mitigation bank.) = NLAA. Based upon the NLAA determination for the Wood Stork no further coordination is required.

The Corps has determined the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the eastern indigo snake and wood stork. The Corps has determined the proposal will have no effect to the Audubon’s crested caracara, red cockaded woodpecker, Florida scrub jay, Everglades Snail Kite, or the Florida grasshopper sparrow. The proposal will have no effect to any designated critical habitat because none is located within the proposal area.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The proposed work would have no effect to 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. The jurisdictional line has 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 Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926 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, Andrew Phillips, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926; by electronic mail at; by facsimile transmission at (321)504-3803; or, by telephone at (321)504-3771 extension 14.

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.