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: Saint Johns Development Partners, LLC
Attn: Ms. Lisa Davis
11975 Aladdin Road
Jacksonville, Florida 32223
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (wetlands) associated with Durbin Creek. The project site is located on a 42.29-acre parcel identified as 5404 Race Track Road (St. Johns County Property Appraiser Parcel Identification Number 023520-0000), in Section 5, Township 5 South, Range 28 East, St. Johns County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 30.102435°
Basic: The basic project purpose is mixed-use commercial/institutional development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is mixed-use commercial/institutional development serving north-central and northwest St. Johns County.
1. Vegetative Community Types: The project site encompasses six community types identified by the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS). The communities types are unimproved pasture (FLUCFCS code 213), open land / rural structures (FLUCFCS code 260), pine – mesic oak (FLUCFCS code 414), mixed wetland hardwoods (FLUCFCS code 617), borrow area (FLUCFCS code 742), and upland spoil berms (FLUCFCS code 743).
a. Unimproved Pasture – This community was previously used and maintained as pasture for cattle. In recent years that cattle have been removed; however, mowing has continued periodically. Vegetation includes Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), winged sumac (Rhus copallina), goldenrod (Solidago sp.), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) and southern red cedar (Juniperus silicicola).
b. Open Land/Rural Structures – Rural structures and open areas dominate this community. Bahia grass is the dominant vegetation.
c. Pine – Mesic Oak – This community generally has a mixed canopy of laurel oak (Quercus hemispherica) and slash pine (Pinus elliottii). The understory vegetation includes scattered saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and bitter gallberry (Ilex glabra). Groundcover is sparse; but includes scattered bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum).
d. Mixed Wetland Hardwoods – This community has a canopy that includes red maple (Acer rubrum), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), and blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora). The understory and groundcover generally include Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), lizard’s-tail (Saururus cernuus), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica).
e. Borrow Area – This area on the site is the result of the excavation of material from the site.
f. Upland Spoil Berms – These small scattered features at the site are the result of the deposition of soil.
2. Elevations: Upland areas on the site generally are located above the 20-foot contour. The contours generally slope from west to east/south toward the onsite wetlands, which generally occur below the 20-foot contour. Surface runoff from the site enters roadside ditches along both Race Track Road and the onsite wetlands. The wetlands located on the east and south sides of the property serve as a portion of the headwater of Durbin Creek.
3. Soils: The Soil Survey of St. Johns County, Florida [U.S.D.A., Soil Conservation Service (SCS), 1983] identifies one soil type on the property, Terra Ceia muck, frequently flooded (code 66). Terra Ceia muck, frequently flooded, is a very poorly drained, nearly level soil on narrow to broad flood plains along rivers and streams. It is primarily in the western part of St. Johns County along the St. Johns River and its tributaries. In most years under natural conditions, the seasonal high water table is at the surface, except during extended dry periods. Typically, the surface layer is dark reddish brown muck about 35 inches thick.
WORK PROPOSED: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge clean fill material over a total of 2.14 acres of wetlands. The project would be implemented in two phases. Phase 1 (encompassing 34.90 acres) would result in the discharge of clean fill over a total of 1.47 acres of wetlands. Phase 2 (encompassing 7.39 acres) would result in the discharge of clean fill over a total of 0.67 acre of wetlands. The work proposed would facilitate the establishment of an indoor sports complex, commercial/retail stores, and a church.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The applicant has expressed the opinion that the project requires large, rectangular, box-shaped spaces for the various proposed facilities (indoor sports complex, commercial/retail, and church buildings). The applicant further expressed the opinion that the removal of any of the proposed components would render the project economically infeasible; and, as such, all of the proposed components are necessary to the viability of the project. In consideration of that analysis, the applicant indicated that the location/orientation of the various components avoids and minimizes work affecting wetlands to the maximum extent practicable.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – As compensatory mitigation for the work affecting wetlands, the applicant would purchase 1.29 Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM) credits from the Fish Tail Swamp Mitigation Bank, a federally approved mitigation bank with a service area encompassing the project site.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The property owner previously contracted a Cultural Resource Assessment Survey of the property. In a report dated January 29, 2016, Heritage Services, Incorporated indicated that no cultural or historical resources were discovered; and, that no historic or archeological sites eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places would be affected by work at the site. Separately, 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.
1. Wood Stork (Mycteria americana): The project site is within the Core Foraging Area of the Dee Dot Ranch (594004) Wood Stork colony; however, the project would affect less than 0.5 acre of suitable foraging habitat for Wood Storks. In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008, to determine potential effects upon this species. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for Wood Storks; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
2. The Corps executed a Resources At Risk (RAR) report. The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species. The Corps also reviewed geospatial data and other available information. The Corps has not received or discovered any information that the project site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species.
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 project would not affect marine or estuarine habitat. Therefore, the Corps’ initial determination is that the proposed action would not adversely affect EFH or federally managed fisheries in the St. Johns River. 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 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. Corps personnel have not verified the jurisdictional line.
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 Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 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, Mark R. Evans, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (904)232-1940; or, by telephone at (904)232-2028.
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 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.