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: Harper Chapel LLC
Attn: Ms. Shari Graham
Post Office Box 1694
Callahan, Florida 32011
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project affects waters of the United States (wetlands) associated with an unnamed tributary to Plummer Creek. The project site is located in the southwest quadrant of the intersection of State Road 200 (Buccaneer Trail) and Harper Chapel Road, in Section 44, Township 2 North, Range 27 East, Yulee, Nassau County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is commercial development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is commercial development serving the general Yulee community.
PROJECT HISTORY: On four separate occasions (April 13, 1995; January 21, 1997; June 10, 1998; and February 29, 2000), the Corps verified that Nationwide Permit number 26 authorized the discharge of clean fill material over a total of 3.0 acres of wetlands encompassed by the project site. The permittee(s) associated with those authorizations did not implement any work prior to the expiration of those permits.
Based on historic aerial photography and information associated with the previous Corps authorizations, the property supported wetland areas best characterized as wetland forested mixed communities (Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System code 630). Previous silviculture operations may have affected the transitional portions of the wetland areas, which likely included a semi-mature canopy dominated by slash pine (Pinus elliottii) and loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus) with fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), bitter gallberry (Ilex glabra) and cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) likely dominating the subcanopy and ground cover. Deeper portions of these wetlands likely supported a canopy dominated by pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens), black gum (Nyssa biflora), and slash pine with fetterbush, Virginia chainfern (Woodwardia virginicus), and royal fern (Osmunda regalis) dominating the subcanopy and ground cover. Based on that same historic information, the uplands supported a pine-mesic oak community (Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System code 414), which likely included a canopy dominated by slash pine, water oak (Quercus nigra), and live oak (Quercus virginiana) with saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), bitter gallberry, and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) dominating the subcanopy and groundcover.
At some time after August 1, 2006, the property owner removed timber from the property; though, the Corps could not determine if the property owner discharged any fill into the onsite wetlands in conjunction with that work. However, at some time between October 2016 and March 2017, the property owner cleared significant portions of the site and discharged fill into portions of the onsite wetlands.
The remnant/remaining portions of the onsite wetland areas have a mature canopy dominated by pond cypress, black gum, and slash pine. Fetterbush, Virginia chainfern, and royal fern dominate the subcanopy and ground cover of these remaining wetlands.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks after-the-fact authorization for the discharge clean fill material over 3.0 acres of wetlands, which would facilitate the development of the property.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The applicant indicates that the work implemented was limited to work previously authorized by the Corps. Further, the applicant indicates that work could not avoid the onsite wetland systems due to the location, size, and orientation of those systems; and, that the work is the minimum necessary to establish commercially developable areas.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – As compensatory mitigation for the work implemented, the applicant would purchase 1.41 credits from the Longleaf Mitigation Bank.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps has determined the permit area has been extensively modified by previous work and there is little likelihood a historic property may be affected.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
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 does not affect marine or estuarine habitat. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have an adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in the Nassau 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. The Corps has based the jurisdictional line on information associated with the previous authorizations of work at the site and on aerial photography.
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.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: After reviewing all available information pertaining to the completed work, the Department of the Army has not recommended legal action at this time. Final determination regarding legal action will be made after review of the project through the permit procedure.
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.