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:
Jehovah’s Witness Congregation Support, Inc.
c/o Mr. Oscar Lopez
1005 Red Mills Road
Wallkill, New York 12589
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect 0.76-acre of waters of the United States associated with the construction of the Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall church worship center and associated parking lot and stormwater management system. The project will be located on the south side of Tamiami Trail East (US Hwy 41), Naples, Collier County, Florida (Parcel No. 00736400000).
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75 South take Exit 101 to County Road 951/FL-84 toward Naples/Marco Island. Keep right and follow signs for Rookery Bay Reserve/Edison College/Naples/Marco Island and merge onto County Road 951/Collier Boulevard in Collier County. Take a left turn onto to US-41 South/Tamiami Trail East and continue for approximately 1.7 miles to Manatee Road. The project will be located on a parcel approximately 0.25 miles southeast of Manatee Road, adjacent to Manatee Middle School, Naples, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.046605°
Basic: Institutional development.
Overall: To construct a church with associated parking lot and stormwater management system in Naples, Collier County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The 3.03-acre subject property is located south of US Highway 41 and east of Collier Boulevard/SR 951. The majority of the parcel is upland comprised of slash pine (Pinus elliottii), invasive earleaf acacia (Acacia auriculiformis), with the occasional Laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), pond cypress (Taxodium distichum), melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia) and cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) in the subcanopy. The understory is includes wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius). The existing wetland systems consists of four (4) forested non-tidal systems. Wetland 1 is a 0.08-acre mixed forested wetland dominated by laurel oaks, slash pine and earleaf acacia with Brazilian pepper in the understory located adjacent to an existing drainage canal immediately west of the property. Wetland 2 and 4 are 0.30-acre and 0.18-acre, respectively, and are similar mixed forested wetlands comprised of slash pine and earleaf acacia with an understory of wax myrtle, Brazilian pepper, and fetterbush. Wetland 3 is a 0.38-acre mixed forested wetland dominated by slash pine and earleaf acacia, but with dense groundcover consisting of a variety of grasses. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of Manatee Middle School to the west, Tamiami Trail/US 41 to the north, and residential subdivisions to the east and south of the subject parcel. A drainage canal is located immediately west of the property.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization for the proposed Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall church worship center which will include the construction of a one-story single building, parking lot, dry retention pond, and right-turn/deceleration lane on Tamiami Trail East. The project will result in the permanent loss of 0.76-acre of forested wetlands.
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 applicant stated in the Department of Army application that all wetlands and surface waters on, and adjacent to, the project area were inspected to ascertain current functions and values. Several factors affected the applicant’s ability to avoid the wetlands including: 1. FDOT Regulations regarding the location of the entrance to the site; 2. Visibility of the facility; 3. Separation of vehicle and pedestrian traffic both on the site and entering/exiting the site; 4. Required construction of a turn lane on Tamiami Trail with associated alteration of the roadway stormwater system; and 5. Tree preservation requirements. Impacts were minimized by keeping the site plan as compact as possible and designing the smallest parking lot meeting Collier County requirements. One wetland, Wetland 4, will be preserved. The wetlands proposed for impact have already been impacted by the widening of Tamiami Trail as documented in SFWMD Environmental Resource Permit No. 11-03368-P.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: Compensatory mitigation will be provided through the purchase of 0.428 forested wetland credits at a mitigation bank that includes the project area within its service area. The proposed credit amount was determined by the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM).
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 Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi), Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus), Red Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) or any of these species’ designated critical habitat. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi) - Use of the July 2017 Revised Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key resulted in the following sequential determination: A>B>C>D>NLAA with no further consultation is necessary for the effects of the proposed action on the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi). This determination is based on the project’s impacts to less than 25 acres of eastern indigo snake potential habitat, the site having no known active or inactive gopher tortoise burrows, and the applicant’s willingness to adhere to the Service’s Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake during site preparation and project construction.
Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus) - The project is located within the focal and consultation area of Florida bonneted bat (FBB). Potential impacts to the FBB were evaluated using the 2013 FBB consultation guidelines key, the project keys out 1>May Affect because the project is located within the FBB Focal Area. The Corps has initially determined that the proposed project, due to its location, may affect, but will not likely adversely affect (MANLAA) the FBB. Once the Corps receives additional information and applicable survey information from the applicant, a request for concurrence with this MANLAA determination will be made to USFWS pursuant to Section 7 of the ESA.
Red Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) – This project is located with the Red Cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) consultation area. Habitat for the RCW south of Long-leaf pine range (roughly a line from Fort Myers to Vero Beach) includes slash pine and as well mixed pine/cypress habitats, cypress heads, and very young pine habitats in south Florida. The project site includes such habitats, so the Corps has determined that the project may effect, but is not likely to adversely affect the RCW. Once the Corps receives additional information from the applicant regarding a survey for RCW suitable foraging and/or nesting habitat, a request for concurrence with our MANLAA determination will be made to USFWS pursuant to Section 7 of the ESA.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on the listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat: American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi), Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), and Wood Stork (Mycteria Americana). The Corps no effect determinations for these species are as follows:
American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) - The proposed project is located with the consultation area for the American crocodile, however, the Corps has determined that due to its location within a highly developed area and since the site is not immediately adjacent and contiguous to a waterway accessible to the crocodile, the project will have no effect on this species.
Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi) - The Corps has determined the project will have no effect on the Florida panther. The project is not located within the Florida panther primary, secondary or dispersal focal areas, however, it is located 200- feet from both the primary and secondary focal areas just north of Tamiami Trail/US-41. Panther telemetry data available from the USFWS shows two telemetry points within 2-miles of the subject property within the last two years. Potential impacts to the panther were evaluated using the February 19, 2007 Florida Panther Effect Determination Key. The Corps has programmatic concurrence with the sequential determination of A>B>No Effect pursuant to the Key because the project will have no increase and/or change in vehicle traffic patterns or other identifiable effects to panthers or their habitat. The project site is surrounded by urban development including the 8-lane Tamiami Trail/US-41 highway to north, a public school to the west, and residential subdivisions to the east and south. This project is not anticipated to cause a significant increase in traffic, as the facility is small and will not generate a significant increase in traffic on Tamiami Trail. The facility will be used by a small staff daily and more heavily on weekends by church attendees. This traffic will be no more than traffic associated with the public school and general public during the week. No further consultation with USFWS will be required.
Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) – The project is located with the Florida Scrub-Jay consultation area. Based on field observations by the applicant’s agent, suitable scrub-jay habitat was not observed within the project area and no scrub-jays were observed during various field investigations conducted from December 2016 through June 2017. Since the project site does not support suitable scrub habitat, but a mixture of slash pine and invasive species with a sparse understory, the Corps has determined that the project will have no effect on the scrub-jay and no further consultation will be conducted.
Wood Stork (Mycteria Americana) - Based on the RAR report generated on November 21, 2017, this project is not located within any of the wood stork colonies buffer areas nor does the site support suitable foraging habitat. The Corps has determined that the project will have no effect on the wood stork and no further consultation will be required.
The Corps has determined that the project will have no effect to ESA listed species under the jurisdiction of National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), as this project is not located near or adjacent to any tidal of freshwater waterways that could support 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 not impact any habitat utilized by EFH species. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have an effect on 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 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 not 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 Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33919 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, Katy Damico, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd, Fort Myers, Florida 33919; by electronic mail at Katy.R.Damico@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (813) 769-7061; or, by telephone at (813) 769-7076.
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.