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: Sobel Vanderbilt, LLC.
c/o Sanjose Tirso
2385 NW Executive Dr., Suite 370
Boca Raton, FL 33431
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project site is located north of Vanderbilt Beach Road west of Pristine Drive within Section 34, Township 48 South, Range 26 East, Naples, Collier County, Florida. The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Golden Gate Drainage Canal System (12-HUC # 030902040503) that drains to Naples Bay which is confluent with the Gulf of Mexico.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75 take exit 111 and head east on Immokalee Road/CR-846. Turn right and head south on Collier Boulevard/CR-951 S. to Vanderbilt Beach Road to Pristine Drive. Turn right on Pristine Drive and head north for about 1,280 feet. The parcel is on the west side of Pristine Drive.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.24886°
Overall: Construct a residential development with access road, parking areas, a surface water management system, and other associated infrastructure in east Naples, Collier County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is approximately 31.52 acres comprised of approximately 7.6 acres of freshwater forested wetlands containing varying degrees of exotic vegetation (25-99%), 23.51 acres of disturbed forested uplands and 0.41 acre of open disturbed uplands. The onsite wetland canopy consists of bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia) and earleaf acacia (Acacia auriculiformis); the ground cover includes false buttonweed (Spermacoce verticillata), swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum), dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium) and buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). The project site is adjacent to existing developments to the south and west, a development under construction to the north and abuts Pristine Drive to the east.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to clear, grade, excavate, dredge and fill approximately 4.52 acres of wetlands to construct and maintain a residential development. The project would dredge 2,323 cubic yards of native materials from4.52 acres of wetlands and discharge 13,810 cubic yards of fill into the 4.52 acres of wetlands.
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 applicant reviewed a number of sites in the target area in order to evaluate the alternative development sites and the feasibility of a project that fits the developer's parameters and meet the project purpose. Sites were eliminated where criteria was not met or exceeded feasibility of the project. A comparative rating of alternate parcels indicated that the project site is the best suited available parcel to meet the variety of needs required by the project. Furthermore, after taking into consideration the potential for wetland impacts, mitigation costs, and feasibility, the project site was determined to be the best site to meet the applicant's project needs.
The project site contains a total of 7.60± acres of low quality wetlands infested with exotics. The wetlands have been hydrologically altered by adjacent developments and Pristine Drive to the east. As a result, the wetlands function and values have been diminished over time.
A number of factors influenced the avoidance and minimization analysis including but not limited to the following: the type of wetlands to be impacted, the hydrologic alteration of the wetlands and the diminished fish and wildlife habitat value that wetlands provide. Therefore, the plan has been minimized to the maximum extent practicable while still allowing for a feasible project.
Modifications were considered that would not compromise the economic viability of the project. The applicant considered a site plan (with 234 units) that would utilize the maximum amount of units allowable under Collier County land development regulations and the applicable zoning. Those plans would have permanently impacted 100% of the on-site wetlands. A second plan was then considered that would include a preserve corridor along the site’s west boundary that would provide some buffering from the western development. This plan would have resulted in 6.19± acres of wetland impacts and 1.41± acres of preserved wetlands. The third plan (current proposal) will preserve 3.08 acres of wetlands which are contiguous with an off-site preserve at the northwest corner of the site and would total a combined 9.47 acre contiguous preserve area.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant proposes to compensate for unavoidable wetland impacts by enhancing and preserving 3.08 acres of wetlands on-site that would maintained, managed, and preserved in perpetuity in accordance with a Mitigation and Monitoring Plan prepared for the project. The applicant also proposes to purchase 2.76 in-kind credits from Panther Island Mitigation Bank, a federally approved mitigation bank.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: By letter dated 2 May 2016 (DHR Project File No.: 2016-01349) the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) stated “it is the opinion of this office that the proposed project is unlikely to adversely affect historic properties”.
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 SHPO and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The project site is located in an area where the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), an ESA listed species, may occur. Using the Indigo Snake Programmatic Concurrence Key (August, 2013) the proposal keys as follows A., B., C., D., E. The permit instrument, if issued, would contain the Standard Protective Measures for Eastern Indigo Snake which must be followed during all construction activities. The Corps determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA) the indigo snake. In accordance with that programmatic key the requirements of Section 7of ESA have been fulfilled and no further consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is required for the indigo snake.
The project site is also within wood stork (Mycteria americana) core foraging areas. In accordance with the South Florida Programmatic Wood Stork Key the proposal keys as follows: A., B., C., E. Although the project will directly impact wood stork foraging habitat, the wetland mitigation proposal is expected to adequately compensate for any stork foraging habitat that would be permanently loss as a result of the project; therefore, the Corps determined the project MANLAA the wood stork and will requests concurrence from the FWS, for this determination, via a separate letter.
The project site is within a FWS designated 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 Corps preliminary determination is that the proposal “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” (MANLAA) the scrub jay. The Corps will requests concurrence from the FWS for this determination, via a separate letter.
The project site is within a FWS designated consultation area for the Florida grasshopper sparrow [(FGSP) (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus)]. FGSP inhabit dry prairie characterized by clumped distribution of bluestem grass (Andropogon spp.), St. John’s wort (Hypericum spp.), wiregrass (Aristida spp.), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and dwarf oak (Quercus minima) ranging from 30 to 70 centimeters in height. FGSP habitat consists of large (greater than 50 ha.) treeless, relatively poorly-drained grassland that have a history of frequent fires. (US-FWS, SE Region, SFESO, Vero Beach, FL, FGSP 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation). The Corps preliminary determination is that the proposal MANLAA the FGSP. The Corps will requests concurrence from the FWS, for this determination, via a separate letter.
The project site is within a FWS designated consultation area for Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii) but is not in close proximity to any known caracara nest or communal roosting sites. The Corps preliminary determination is that the project MANLAA the caracara and will request concurrence from the FWS, for that determination, via a separate letter.
The project site is within a FWS designated consultation area for the red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) (Piciodes borealis). The site is not in close proximity to known RCW nest. The Corps preliminary determination is that the project MANLAA the RCW and will request concurrence from the FWS, for that determination, via a separate letter.
The project site is within a FWS designated Focus Area for the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi). In accordance with the Florida Panther Effect Determination Key
The proposal keys as follows A., C., the project is greater than one acre therefore the proposal “may affect” the panther. The Corps will initiate Formal Consultation for this species with the FWS, via a separate letter.
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. Based on this information and in accordance with the FBB guidelines, the Corps preliminary determination is that the project “may affect” the FBB. The Corps will initiate Formal Consultation for this species with the FWS, via a separate letter.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
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 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 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or faxed to (239)-334-0797. Phone number is (239)-334-1975 X-0012.
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.