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:
Axel Real Estate, Inc.
C/o Mr. David Axel
1757 West Broadway Street, Suite 1
Oviedo, FL 32765
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Hydrologic Unit Code 0308010110 (Econolockhatchee River). The project site is located at 18951 Old Lake Pickett Road, on the east side of Lake Pickett within, Section 3, Township 22 South, Range 32 East, Orange County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take SR 528 west to SR 417. Take SR 417 north to SR 408. Take SR 408 east to SR 50. Take SR 50 east to Chuluota Road (CR 419). Take CR 419 north to Lake Pickett Road (CR 420). Take CR 420 east approximately 1.0 miles to the property on the north side of CR 420.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: Housing development
Overall: Construction of a single-family residential development including associated access roads, recreation/open space areas, and stormwater management facilities in the north central portion of Orange County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Lake Pickett Lots 1-3 project site currently supports ten 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 1999) (Figure 5). The on-site upland land use types/vegetative communities are classified as Citrus Grove (221) and Hardwood – Conifer Mixed (434). The on-site wetland/surface water land use types/vegetative communities are classified as Streams and Waterways (510), Lakes larger than 500 acres (521), Reservoirs less than 10 acres (534), Bay Swamp (611), Pond Pine (622), Wetland Forested Mixed (630), Freshwater Marsh (641), and Wet Prairies (643). The following provides a brief description of the land use types/vegetative communities:
221 Citrus Grove
The vast majority of the subject site’s upland component may best be classified as Citrus Grove (221), per the FLUCFCS. These maintained and active groves extend across the entire site, with the exception of the property’s wetlands/surface waters and a small section of forested uplands along its eastern boundary. Dominant vegetation observed consists of citrus (Citrus spp.), with scattered ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), Guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus), Florida pusley (Richardia scabra), caesarweed (Urena lobata), and natal grass (Melinus repens). Numerous agricultural sheds, irrigation pumps, and equipment were observed. In addition, a number of historic launches into Lake Pickett exist within this community. The majority of these were constructed utilizing fill material. However, one launch was constructed utilizing concrete. It should also be noted that one wood-frame residence/boat house exists along the eastern shoreline of Lake Pickett and was constructed over water. Lastly, it should be noted that a small portion of the grove appears to have recently been cleared and planted with blueberry (Vaccinium cyanococcus).
434 Hardwood-Conifer Mixed
The remaining portion of the subject property’s upland component may best be classified as Hardwood-Conifer Mixed (434), per the FLUCFCS. This community is located along the property’s eastern boundary and is dominated by a mixture of long-leaf pine (Pinus palustris), loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), live oak (Quercus virginiana), myrtle oak (Quercus geminata), winged sumac (Rhus copallina), dense saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), muscadine vine (Vitis rotundifolia), beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana), galberry (Ilex glabra), greenbriar (Smilax spp.), and dogfennel (Eupatorium capillifolium).
510 Streams and Waterways
A number of upland cut surface water ditches exist throughout the project site that may best be classified a Streams & Waterways (510), per the FLUCFCS. A number of these ditches were constructed in association with the site’s agricultural usage (i.e., rim ditches). Others were excavated to provide for surface water migration through the site, from off-site systems to Lake Pickett. A small number were constructed for surface water collection and conveyance from the groves to the adjacent wetlands/surface waters. Typical vegetation within these ditch systems consisted of wild taro (Colocasia esculenta), Cuban bulrush (Oxycaryum cubense), primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), cattail (Typha latifolia), spikerush (Eleocharis spp.), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), and duckweed (Lemna minor).
521 Lakes larger than 500 acres
One community exists along the western boundary of the site that may best be classified as Lakes larger than 500 acres (521), per the FLUCFCS. This system is associated with Lake Pickett and its open waters. Vegetation observed along the littoral edge of the lake includes maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), pond lily (Nymphea odorata), cattail (Typha lattifolia), torpedo grass (Panicum repens), jointed spikerush (Eleocharis interstincta) and buttonbush (Cephalanthas occidentalis). It should be noted that a number of the larger ditches just east of Lake Pickett outfall into drainwell structures.
534 Reservoirs, less than 10 acres which are dominant features
Two small, isolated, upland excavated surface waters exist within the northern and eastern portions of the site that may be best classified as Reservoirs, less than 10 acres which are dominant features (534), per the FLUCFCS. These systems are mostly open water but contain a littoral edge of spatterdock (Nuphar lutea), pond lily (Nymphea odorata), jointed spikerush (Eleocharis interstincta), and primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana); with scattered royal fern (Osmunda regalis), netted chain fern (Woodwardia aerolata), and blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) along their banks.
611 Bay Swamp
Within the northeast corner of the site and along its eastern boundary exists a forested community that may best be classified as Bay Swamp (611), per the FLUCFCS. Dominant vegetation within this community consists of loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), widely scattered pond pine (Pinus serotina), widely scattered cypress (Taxodium distichum), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), muscadine grapevine (Vitis rotundifolia), greenbriar (Smilax spp.), swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata), and primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana). A rim ditch exists along both the western and southern boundaries of the northern system. Both of the bay swamps extend off-site to the east.
622 Pond Pine
This forested wetland community exists along the site’s eastern boundary and may be classified as a Pond Pine (622) community, per the FLUCFCS. This wetland, similar to the above described Bay Swamp, extends offsite to the east. Dominant vegetation throughout this system consists of pond pine (Pinus serotina), scattered loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), scattered dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), galberry (Ilex glabra), and sphagnum moss (Sphagnum spp.) at the lower elevations. Evidence of periodic inundation was observed via buttressing and moss collars.
630 Wetland Forested Mixed
The most extensive of the subject site’s wetland/surface water communities is primarily located along the shoreline of Lake Pickett and may best be classified a Wetland Forested Mixed (630), per the FLUCFCS. This wetland community is dominated by species such as bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), red maple (Acer rubrum), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and scattered pond pine (Pinus serotina) throughout its canopy; with like-species, wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum) throughout its sub-canopy; and, lizard’s tail (Saururus cerunuus), southern shield fern (Dryopteris ludoviciana), muscadine vine (Vitis rotundifolia), wild taro (Colocasia esculenta), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), St. Johns-wort (Hypericum spp.), coral ardisia (Coral ardisia), swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), scattered Brazilian peppar (Schinus terebinthifolius), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) and greenbriar (Smilax spp.).
641 Freshwater Marsh
Two non-forested wetland communities that may be classified as Freshwater Marsh (641), per the FLUCFCS exist within the limits of the project site. The first is located along the site’s western boundary and continues off-site to the west. Historically, a wetland cut rim ditch was excavated along the perimeter of this system. It should also be noted that it appears to outfall into a drain well. The second of the freshwater marshes is located within the above described Pond Pine community, along the property’s eastern boundary. Both of these systems were inundated at the time of inspection. Typical vegetation consists of Cuban bulrush (Oxycaryum cubense), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), St. John’s wort (Hypericum spp.), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), southern shield fern (Dryopteris ludoviciana), redroot (Lachnanthes caroliniana), white-head bog button (Lachnocaulon anceps), southern pipewort (Eriocaulon ravenellie), yellow-eyed grasses (Xyris spp.), clustered beakrush (Rhynchospora cephalantha), and dogfennel (Eupatorium capillifolium).
643 Wet Prairies
Two areas of a herbaceous wetland system exist within the central portion of the site that may best be classified as Wet Prairies (643), per the FLUCFCS. These areas appear to be periodically maintained in association with the property’s agricultural practices and are dominated by species such as elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), Mexican primrose willow (Ludwigia octovalvis), sea myrtle (Bacharis hamilifolia), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), cattail (Typha latifolia), vasey grass (Paspalum urvillei), heartwing sorrel (Rumex hastatulus), goldenrod (Solidago spp.), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle umbellate), common three-square (Schoenoplectus pungens), ragweed (Ambrosia artemisifolia), and bahia grass (Paspalum notatum).
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to impact a total of 7.20 acres of waters of the United States (4.07 acres of wetlands and 3.13 acres of ditches and surface waters) for construction of a single-family residential development.
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:
“A total of 4.08 acres of direct wetland impact (W2, W7 & W8) and 3.12 acres of direct surface water impact (SW1 – SW8) have been proposed in association with the subject project. With respect to those 0.13 acres of direct impact to W2, they are associated with the project’s boat ramp and, as such, cannot be avoided due to the need for access through the wetland in order to launch watercraft. These impacts have been minimized to the fullest extent by utilizing an only 15’ wide ramp, with required tie-backs to adjacent, natural grade.
With respect to W7 and W8, both are low quality systems that have been incorporated into the overall agricultural practices and, as such, provide very little ecological value. With respect to avoidance and minimization measures, we understand that impacting wetlands because they are low quality does not meet these criteria. However, we feel that these impacts are to portions wetlands in which their overall functional value has already been removed by decades of impacts associated with their agricultural utilization and incorporation into the current/active citrus operation. These areas have been disked, planted with citrus, periodically maintained, and drained routinely. So, we understand about low quality not being a factor but do think it must be taken into consideration with the duration and extreme nature of these historically ongoing adverse impacts.
Their preservation would provide little, if any, wildlife habitat and would instead provide a seed source for nuisance and exotic species that would potentially adversely affect the post-development preservation areas. This is especially true when taking into consideration their relatively small size; which, when surrounded by post-development infrastructure, significantly limit their viability in the future. Lastly, with respect to project design, both of these systems are located in topographical low areas across the project; which lends itself to the proposed stormwater pond location from an engineering design perspective. If these systems were to be avoided, it would require the relocation of two (2) stormwater ponds. These relocation efforts would require the loss of approximately five (5) interior lots and five (5) lakefront lots in association with W7 and approximately six (6) interior lots in association with W8.
With respect to SW1 through SW8, all of these systems are associated with upland cut, manmade systems that were historically utilized in association with the project’s agricultural operation…as either drainage features of irrigation pump basins. With respect to SW1 – SW3, these are all surface water ditches that assisted in the draining of the adjacent lands; eventually discharging into a number of drain wells. These rim-ditches are also located adjacent to the Lake Pickett wetlands and as such are believed to have an adverse effect on these systems via drawdown. SW4 and SW8 are upland excavated irrigation basins that are isolated and less than 0.5 acres in size. Because of this neither of these systems would be viable in a post-development setting. SW5, SW6 and SW7 are all upland cut ditch systems that assisted in the drainage of the adjacent grove. These systems provide no ecological function and would not be viable in the post-development due to their size.
Based on the above, it is believed that all avoidance and/or minimization efforts with respect to the project’s direct wetland and surface water impacts have been demonstrated.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“The above described 7.20 acres of direct wetland impact account for a total of 2.42 units of functional loss (FL). In order to offset these losses, a total of 2.42 Federal mitigation bank credits (WRAP) are to be purchased 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. The Florida Master Site File database indicates a cultural resource assessment survey may be required 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 the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). Based upon review of the Corps and Service’s Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (dated August 13, 2013), the proposed project resulted in the following sequential determination: 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 more than 25 acres of eastern indigo snake habitat) = may effect. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect the Wood stork (Mycteria americana). The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the US 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 (Impacts to SFH >0.5 acre) >D (Project impacts to SFH within a Core Foraging Area of a colony site) = NLAA. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
Based on existing habitat types and proposed work the Corps has determined the proposed project will have no effect Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus). The Corps will request FWS concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
Based on existing habitat types the Corps has determined the proposed project may affect Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). The Corps will request FWS concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
Based on existing habitat types and survey information, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have no affect to the Audobon’s Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway) and Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis).
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 7.20 acres of freshwater wetlands which ultimately discharges to the Econolockhatchee River. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in the downstream waters. 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/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 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, Brandon Conroy, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926; by electronic mail at email@example.com; by facsimile transmission at (321) 504-3803; or, by telephone at (504) 321-3771 x11.
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.