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: Beachline South Residential, LLC
189 S. Orange Ave., Suite 1110S
Orlando, Florida 32801
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The 250± acre Starwood Phase I project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Kissimmee River Hydrologic Unit (Hydrologic Unit Code 03090101); project is located north of Lake Hart. The project site is located south of SR 528 and east of SR 417, within Sections 2, 3 & 4, Township 24 South, Range 31 East and Sections 33, 34 & 35, Township 23 South, Range 31 East, in Orange County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: The project is not accessible by public road but is located in the southeast quadrant of the intersection of SR 417 and SR 528.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Overall: Development of a residential community within the eastern half of Orange County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Starwood Phase I project area currently supports 12 land use types/vegetative communities. These land use types/vegetative communities were identified utilizing the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System, Level III (FLUCCS, FDOT, January 2004). The on-site upland land use types/vegetative communities are classified as Improved Pasture (211), Herbaceous (310), Pine Flatwoods (411), Sand Pine (413), Xeric Oak (421), Live Oak (427), Sand Live Oak (432) and Electric Power Facilities (831). Approximately 117.21 acres of aquatic resources are found in the project area, including land use types/vegetative communities classified as Streams and Waterways (510), Bay Swamp (611), Cypress (621), and Freshwater Marsh (641).
A majority of the on-site wetlands would be most consistent with the Bay Swamp (611) FLUCCS classification. Vegetation observed within this community type includes loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), marsh fern (Thelypteris palustaris), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens).
Vegetation observed within the Cypress (621) FLUCCS classification includes bald cypress, bushy bluestem, spikerush (Eleocharis sp.), marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellata), cinnamon fern, sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense), soft rush (Juncus effusus), smartweed (Polygonum punctatum), spadeleaf (Centella asiatica), and poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).
Vegetation observed within the Freshwater Marsh (641) FLUCCS classification includes bushy bluestem, spikerush, marsh pennywort, cinnamon fern, sawgrass, water hyssop (Bacopa monnieri), soft rush, smartweed, St. Johns wort (Hypericum fasciculatum), and spadeleaf.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill 28.6 acres of waters of the United States for residential development on the 250± acre Starwood Phase I project. The project also includes two proposed off-site Conceptual Road corridors, reviewed pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, proposing an additional 16.66 acres of fill in waters of the United States.
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:
“In reviewing the proposed plan, the applicant has avoided and minimized wetland impacts to the greatest extent possible. Several design configurations were evaluated during the planning of the proposed development. The proposed development of residential lots and stormwater management systems is designed to avoid impacts to the higher quality cypress wetland systems throughout the site. These impacts are limited to the lower quality ecotone areas that are fire suppressed and provides little biological function. Wetland impacts A, B, K, L (11.57 acres) are limited to road crossings necessary to provide access to the various upland areas within the subject site. Wetland impacts P, P1, Q, R, R1, R2, R3, S, T (16.35 acres) are proposed to impact the lower quality fringe of the wetland systems to construct residential lots and stormwater ponds. The Starwood Phase N-1A, N-2A & N-3A Site. Access to the subject site will be provided by Dowden Road Segment 2 from the south (Impact A).
The overall roadway alignment for the Conceptual Road corridor has been designed to provide access to the various fragmented upland communities while requiring the minimum amount of wetland impacts. The roadway alignment has been developed to the City of Orlando roadway engineering standards. The proposed roadway alignment crossing impacts are located at the narrowest portion of the wetlands. Furthermore, the northern most portion of the road was designed to parallel the All Aboard Florida rail alignment along the Beachline Expressway (SR 528).”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Mitigation to offset the functional loss incurred via the project’s direct and secondary wetland impacts consist of the purchase of credits from a mitigation bank. Based on BTC’s WRAP score, the project proposes to purchase 28.59 credits from the Colbert-Cameron Mitigation Bank.”
The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area, which is defined by the project boundaries, and no information was provided by the Applicant. The Florida Master Site File database indicates a cultural resource assessment survey may be required within portions of the permit area; a CRAS report was finalized February 2017. 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 applicant indicated no federally listed plant species occur on the project site. The Corps has completed preliminary federally listed species affect determinations which include the following:
The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” (NLAA) wood stork (Mycteria Americana). The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of two rookeries; the project supports Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for wood stork. The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) North Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Wood Stork (September 2008). Use of the Key for Wood Stork resulted in the following sequential determination: A (The project is more than 2,500 feet from a colony site.) > B (Project impacts SFH.) > C (Project impacts to SFH greater than or equal to 0.5 acres.) > D (Project impacts to SFH are within the Core Foraging Area of a colony site) > E (The determination is supported by SFH compensation provided within the service area of a mitigation bank which covers the CFA and/or provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of impacted SFH; is not contrary to the Service’s Habitat Management Guidelines For The Wood Stork In The Southeast Region and in accordance with the CWA Section 404(b)(1) guidelines) = NLAA. The Corps has FWS concurrence for the proposed activities through the use of the aforementioned determination key.
The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Effect Determination Key (dated January 25, 2010; August 13, 2013 Addendum), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: 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 construction) > C (There are gopher tortoise burrows or other refugia.) > D (Project will impact less than 25 active and inactive burrows) > E (Permit will be conditioned such that all gopher tortoise burrows, active or inactive, will be evacuated prior to site manipulation in the vicinity of the burrow. If an indigo snake is encountered, the snake must be allowed to vacate the area prior to additional site manipulation in the vicinity. Permit is conditioned with the standard protection measure for the Indigo Snake) = NLAA. All gopher tortoise burrows, active or inactive, will be evacuated prior to site manipulation in the burrow vicinity. If excavating potentially occupied burrows, active or inactive, individuals must first obtain state authorization via a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent permit. The excavation method selected should also minimize the potential for injury of an indigo snake. Holes, cavities, and snake refugia other than gopher tortoise burrows 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 USFWS concurrence for the proposed activities through use of the aforementioned determination key.
Based on existing habitat types and/or provided survey information, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have no effect on Bluetail mole skink (Eumeces egregious lividus) and Sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi), red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis), Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Audubon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii) and Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens).
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 impact approximately 45.26 acres of freshwater wetlands and surface waters which ultimately discharge to the Kissimmee River. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on downstream EFH or Federally managed fisheries. 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 (NMFS).
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 will 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 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, Jeffrey S. Collins, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section (address above), by electronic mail at Jeffrey.firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at (321) 504-3771.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with USFWS, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 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 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.