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: AW Asset Management, LLC.
11780 US Highway One, Suite 305
N Palm Beach, FL 33408
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect wetlands and surface waters located within the Upper Loxahatchee Slough Basin; (12-digit Hydrologic Unit Code 030902060700). The project is located in Section 17 & 18, Township 41 South, Range 41 East, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: In Palm Beach County, Florida, travel along Interstate 95 north bound and exit west bound on W Blue Heron Blvd to Bee Line Highway. Head north west on Bee Line Highway for approximately 13.75 miles then turn north on State Highway 711 to the west corner of the subject parcel.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Longitude: -80.280245° W
Basic: To construct a recreational facility in Jupiter, Florida.
Overall: To construct a recreational surf park that provides year-round services to St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is an approximately 81-acre undeveloped site that has approximately 11.67 acres of wetlands, half of which are comprised of exotic hardwoods (melaleuca). The remainder of the site contains scattered exotics including melaleuca and Brazilian pepper, cumulatively covering almost 15 acres of uplands. The site is currently used for livestock grazing and is typical of wetlands within cattle field throughout Florida. Existing wetlands have been degraded through soil compaction and vegetation grazing by these cattle.
Based on current site conditions, land cover classifications (Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCCS), Florida Department of Transportation, January 1999) are as follows:
Unimproved Pastures (FLUCCS 212, ± 51.3 acres)
Much of the project area consists of this type of land classification. These areas include cleared land with major stand of trees and brush. Vegetation observed included muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia), old world climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum), Australian pine (Casuarina equisetifolia), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius).
Brazilian Pepper (FLUCCS 422 ± 11.8 ac.)
Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) is found in dense thickets due to the disturbed nature of the banks and ditches at the site.
Melaleuca (FLUCCS 424 ± 2.4 ac.)
Vegetation was comprised primarily of dense melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquinervia) stands with ruderal grasses covering the forest floor.
Agricultural Ditch (FLUCCS 511 ± 3.6 ac.)
Minor vegetative components consist of yellow cow-lilies (Nuphar lutea), rush (Juncus spp.), and other emergent aquatic vegetation. The ditch was mostly open water.
Exotic Wetland Hardwoods (FLUCCS 617 ± 4.6 ac.)
This is the largest wetland cover within the project area and is made up of a canopy of melaleuca with a sparse understory of giant white-topped sedge (Rhynchospora latifolia), wax myrtle, beak rush (Rhynchospora brownii), St. Johns wort (Hypericum perforatum), yellow-eyed grass (Xyris sp.), and sundew (Drosera rotundifolia).
Freshwater Marshes (FLUCCS 641 ± 1.9 ac.)
Standing water was observed in both freshwater marshes delineated on site. Vegetation consisted of dollar weed (Hydrocotyle umbellata), soft rush (Juncus effuses), sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense), swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum), cattail (Typha spp.), and St. Johns wort. Melaleuca and Brazilian pepper bordered the edges of the marshes. The freshwater marsh located on the east portion of the subject site is connected to the ditch that runs the extent of the northern boundary via a culvert.
Wet Prairies (FLUCCS 643 ± 5.4 ac.)
Vegetation consisted of giant white-topped sedge, beak rush, yellow-eyed grass, sundew, old-world climbing fern, wax myrtle, melaleuca, and intermittent slash pine and cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill 46,100 cubic yards and dredge 21,000 cubic yards and/or convert 11.67 acres of waters of the United States to non-jurisdictional features for construction of a recreational surf park.
The proposed development involves construction of a large wave-pool (350’ by 3,500’) with associated seating and maintenance storage building, as well as 110 parking spaces located on the western portion of the pool with 50 more spaces on the southern end. Additionally, there will be a Learning Center, Surf Club, and 8.5-acre dry detention area located on the western edge of the pool. The western portion of the property will hold six 46,000 sq. ft. industrial warehouses, associate truck loading bays, and 690 parking spaces.
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 proposed development involves the construction of a recreational surf park and industrial warehouse facilities. The project proposes direct wetland impacts to 11.67 acres of jurisdictional wetlands. Although all wetlands on site are proposed for impact the ecological value of the wetlands is low due to disturbance by agricultural activities over the years (soil compaction and vegetation grazing). Given the unique size and shape of the site and the proposed wave pool, efforts to avoid wetland impacts were impractical.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant has proposed to mitigate for unavoidable direct impacts associated with project development by purchasing credits from the Loxahatchee Mitigation Bank in Palm Beach County.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. One resource group, the wire grass trail, is located within the Pine Glades Natural Area to the North, and will not be impacted by this project. 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, if applicable, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project will have no effect on the Red-cockaded woodpecker, Audubon’s crested caracara, Florida grasshopper sparrow, and the Florida scrub jay as the site does not contain habitat for these species and it is not designated critical habitat for this species.
The Corps has determined the proposed project is “May Affect, but is Not Likely to Adversely Affect” the wood stork (Mycteria americana). The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of two (2) wood stork colonies; the project supports marginally Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for wood stork. Based on the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in South Florida (dated May 18, 2010), the Corps determination sequence was A>B>C>E=NLAA. The project provides SFH compensation at the Loxahatchee Mitigation Bank.
The Corps has determined the proposed project is “Not Likely to Adversely Affect” Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi). Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Effect Determination Key (dated January 25, 2010; August 13, 2013 Addendum), the Corps determination sequence resulted in A>B>C>D>E=MANLAA. Marginal habitat was present on site and four gopher tortoise burrows were observed. Holes, cavities, and snake refugia will be inspected each morning before planned site manipulation of a particular area, and if occupied by an indigo snake, no work will commence until the snake has vacated the vicinity of proposed work; the permittee agrees to use the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake (dated August 12, 2013).
The Corps has received programmatic concurrence from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with these determinations pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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 not been verified by Corps personnel.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from 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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Blvd, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410 within 30 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, Carolyn Farmer, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Blvd, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, 33410, by electronic mail at email@example.com, by fax at (561) 626-6791, or by telephone at (561) 472-3527.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with USFWS, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 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.
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.