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: KB Home Jacksonville, LLC
c/o Maston Crapps
10475 Fortune Parkway #100
Jacksonville, Florida 32256
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The 553.3 ± acre Willow Creek Estates project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Halfway Lake Basin (HUC 0308010108), which is part of the Middle St. Johns River Watershed. The project site is located east of the intersection of SR 407 and I-95 in Brevard County (Sections 4, 9 and 10, Township 23 South, Range 35 East), Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From SR 407 in Titusville, proceed south on Grissom Parkway approximately 1.5 miles. The project site is to the west.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 28.49724º
Basic: Residential construction.
Overall: The overall project purpose is the development of single- and multi-family residential in Brevard County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The site is connected to the St. Johns River floodplain by a culvert under I-95. The Willow Creek currently supports seven land use types/vegetative communities within its boundaries. 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 upland land use type/vegetative community on the site are classified as Inactive Land with Street Patterns (192), Pine Flatwoods (411), and Cabbage Palm (428). The 205.4 acres of wetland vegetative communities on the site are classified as Cypress Pine Cabbage Palm (624), Hydric Pine Flatwoods (625), Forested Mix Wetlands (630) and Freshwater Marsh (641). The following provides a brief description of wetland communities identified on the site:
624 Cypress Pine Cabbage Palm
A narrow wetland slough traverses east to west through the project site providing drainage for the eastern wetlands through the property and off-site under Interstate 95 with eventual discharge to the St. Johns River. The narrowest section of this slough is comprised of a shallow creek. Canopy species include cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), live oak (Quercus virginiana), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), winged sumac (Rhus copallinum), gallberry (Ilex glabra), greenbriar (Smilax spp.), blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus), shiny lyonia (Lyonia lucida), saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia), muscadine grapevine (Vitis rotundifolia).
625 Hydric Pine Flatwoods
A small Hydric Pine flatwood wetland is embedded within the upland Pine flatwoods. Vegetation observed within this community type includes slash pine (Pinus elliottii), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), greenbriar (Smilax spp.), gallberry (Ilex glabra) and blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus). This wetland was impacted and mitigated under the Entrance Road permit 92265-2.
630 Mixed Forested Wetland
The main wetland community type is best classified as Mixed Forested Wetland (630), per the FLUCFCS. These mixed forested areas consist of a large forested wetland system where neither hardwoods nor conifers achieve more than a 66 percent dominance of the crown canopy composition. Vegetation observed within this community type include cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), red maple (Acer rubrum), dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), slash pine (Pinus elliottii), pond pine (Pinus serotina), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), greenbriar (Smilax spp.), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), gallberry (Ilex glabra) and blackberry (Rubus pensilvanicus). A small portion of this wetland area was impacted and mitigated under the Entrance Road Permit 92265-2.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks a 10-year authorization to fill and/or convert 17.40 acres of waters of the United States to non-jurisdictional features for construction of the Willow Creek Estates residential community.
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 project has been designed to meander around the larger contiguous wetland systems. Impact areas were selected based on physical factors such as habitat quality, post development fragmentation, and narrowness at the impact location in order to reduce the acreage of wetland impacts and reduce the ecological impact to the site as a whole. Fringe impacts are proposed in areas where the roadway design could not accommodate the natural wetland limits. This site plan leaves much of the higher quality wetlands undisturbed and intact. Ultimately, the least invasive site design was chosen which would allow the development’s needs to be met as well as balancing the ecological aspects of the property. Overall, the proposed site plan, meanders within the uplands proposing the least environmentally damaging and practicable design, while leaving the large forested and herbaceous wetland systems intact and utilized as a significant wildlife corridor.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“To offset the loss of function provided by the proposed wetland impacts, the Applicant proposes to utilize credits from Farmton Mitigation Bank whose service area includes the project site. Based on the provided WRAP score of the proposed direct and secondary wetland impacts, a total of 14.48 credits are required as compensatory mitigation. It is the intent of the Applicant to provide these credits from Farmton Mitigation Bank. Though not part of the overall USACOE permitting plan, it is anticipated that approximately 186.94 acres of mature forested wetlands and herbaceous marshes will be preserved and dedicated to SJRWMD as part of the mitigation plan to this state agency. These lands will remain intact providing a continuous wetland system that runs through the Willow Creek project site for resting, foraging, denning and nesting habitat, as well as providing a covered wildlife corridor for wetland dependent, aquatic and upland species.”
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.
The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of a wood stork rookery; the project supports marginally Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for wood stork. Based on the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida (dated September 2008), the Corps determination sequence was A>B>C>E = “may affect, not likely to adversely affect”. The determination is supported by SFH compensation provided within the service area of a mitigation bank which covers the CFA, and 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. The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 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. 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 protection construction.) >C (There are gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities.) >D (The project will impact less than 25 acres of xeric habitat supporting less than 25 active and inactive gopher tortoise burrows ) >E (Any 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) = NLAA. The permittee agrees to use the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake (dated August 12, 2013). If an indigo snake is encountered, the snake must be allowed to vacate the area prior to additional site manipulation in the vicinity. Any permit will also be conditioned such that 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 Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence for the proposed activities through the use of the aforementioned determination key.
The project is within the Consultation Area for Florida scrub jay, Audubon’s crested caracara and Everglades Snail Kite. Based on existing habitat types, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have no effect on these 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 proposal would impact approximately 17.40 acres of primarily forested wetlands located in the St. Johns River watershed. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on 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. 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 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 Collins, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida, 32926; by electronic mail at Jeffrey.S.Collins@usace.army.mil; by fax at (321) 504-3803, or by telephone at (321) 504-3771 extension 13.
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.