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) and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: John Evanisko
804 S. 12th Street
Fort Pierce, FL 34950
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the North Fork of the St. Lucie River and the adjacent freshwater wetland on the vacant lot. The project site is located on Lot 4-5 Merrybee Drive (Parcel ID: 3409-703-0117-000-5), Section 9, Township 36 South, Range 40 East, in Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take Interstate 95 to exit 126 for Midway Road. Travel east on West Midway Road approximately 4.3 miles and turn right onto South Citrus Avenue. Travel south for 1.3 miles and turn right onto Parkland Boulevard and in 0.2 miles turn right onto Merrybee Drive. Project is located about hallway up the street on the left side of the road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Single Family Residence and Water Access
Overall: To construct a single family home with a dock in Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project area is currently a 0.45-acre vacant lot. There is a 0.35-acre freshwater wetland just west of Merrybee Drive that extends west to berm along the west side of the property. The freshwater wetland is dominated by a canopy of cabbage palms (Sabal palmetto) and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) with an understory of Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum), and Myrsine (Myrsine cubana). The upland berm contains cabbage palms and live oak trees (Quercus virginiana) with an understory of myrsine, wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa), swamp fern, and cabbage palms. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of single family residences.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to (1) place fill within 0.23 acres (1,948 cubic yards) of freshwater forested wetlands to construct a 1500 square foot single family home with associated septic system and driveway; and (2) install a 4-foot by 10-foot floating dock, with a 5 foot long by 4 foot wide access walkway from the uplands (total 60 square feet).
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:
“Impacts to the waters of the United States are avoided and minimized by first proposing a modest site plan that avoids impacts to a significant portion of the site and reduces impacts to a minimal amount necessary to construct a modest 1,500 SF residence. We further avoid impacts by providing parking under the main living area rather than having a standard side attached garage. Additionally, we provided a swale B.M.P. to catch and treat runoff from the residence and driveway minimizing water quality degradation. Finally, the proposed dock is only a 40 SF floating dock which does not require pilings in water and is not proposed over submerged resources.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Wetland impacts will be offset by purchase of mitigation bank credits from Bluefield Ranch Mitigation Bank.”
CULTURAL RESOURCES: 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, if applicable, those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus); Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi); wood stork (Mycteria americana); and swimming sea turtles: (green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), and Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)); smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata);.
The proposed dock is accessible to manatees. Use of The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida (Manatee Key) dated April 2013 results in a path of A-B-C-G-H-I-N-O-P (paragraph 4). Provided the applicant adheres to the standard manatee construction conditions during the in-water work, the key results in a may affect, not likely to adversely affect determination. For proposed in-water activities analyzed with the West Indian Manatee in which the Corps reaches a may affect, not likely to adversely affect determination with respect to the manatee and/or its designated critical habitat, the FWS concurs with the Corps determination in accordance with 50 CFR 402.14(b) 1; and, no further consultation with the FWS is required.
The Corps has determined that the proposed project is located within 18.6 miles of three wood stork nesting colonies and suitable foraging habitat is located within the project footprint. The Corps utilized the South Florida Programmatic Concurrence Key for the Wood Stork dated May 18, 2010, and determined that the project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork (path A-B), since the proposed impacts to suitable habitat is less than one half an acre. No further consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is required for the wood stork pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. If it is determined that the wood stork foraging habitat would not be replaced, coordination with the FWS would be conducted by separate letter.
The Corps has determined that suitable gopher tortoise habitat and other snake refugia are present within and adjacent to the project area. Use of The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Indigo Snake Key dated 1 August 2017, resulted in a path of A-B-C-D-E, not likely to adversely affect. A determination of “not likely to adversely affect” was made for the Indigo snake provided the permit includes the special conditions for the Eastern Indigo Snake Protection Measures during construction and the permit will be conditioned such that all gopher tortoise burrows, active or inactive, shall be evacuated via methods pursuant to FWC excavation guidance prior to site manipulation in the vicinity of the burrows. Additionally, holes, cavities, and snake refugia other than gopher tortoise burrows shall be inspected each morning before planned site manipulation of a particular area with work stopping if an indigo snake is discovered. With an outcome of “not likely to adversely affect (NLAA)” as outlined in the key, the requirements of Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act are fulfilled for the eastern indigo snake and no further action is required.
Work will occur in waters accessible to the swimming sea turtles and smalltooth sawfish. Smalltooth sawfish and swimming sea turtles may be affected by being unable to use an area for forage or refuge habitat due to potential avoidance of construction activities. These effects will be insignificant because these species are motile and likely to leave the area during construction, the risk of injury from this type of construction activity is insignificant. The Corps will request National Marine Fisheries Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species
Act by separate letter.
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 0.001 acres of muddy benthic substrate utilized by various life stages of penaeid shrimp complex, reef fish, stone crab, spiny lobster, migratory/pelagic fish, and snapper/grouper complex. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the South Atlantic Region. 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 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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 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, Jerilyn Ashworth, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; by electronic mail at Jerilyn.Ashworth@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (561)472-3508; or, by telephone at (561)626-6971.
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.