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: Jordan Kornberg
C/o Northwood Investors
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with an existing resort. The project site is located at 81801 Overseas Highway.
Directions to the site are as follows: Enter Cheeca Lodge & Spa through main entrance off of Route 1 Overseas Highway. Head Southwest on main road and tum right at last road. Salt pond lagoon will be south of main building near existing pool.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 24.915406°
Longitude - 80.633161°
Basic: The basic project purpose is to fill an existing adjacent/tidally connected lagoon to create a swimming pool for recreational use.
Overall: The basic project purpose is to fill an existing adjacent/tidally connected lagoon to create a swimming pool for recreational use, in Islamorada, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a saltwater system. The onsite vegetation has been impacted since the site was inundated with a significant storm surge that deposited marine sediments and debris. The residual sediment occupying the site consist of a variety of various textures, organic matter, shell fragments, calcareous "Halimeda sand", marine plant matter and suspended detritus from cellular breakdown. The submerged areas has remnants of aquatic vegetation of poor quality and high mortality due to re-suspended sediments covering the permit application area in a lesser volume than bare sand. Blockage to the culvert and the addition of storm generated sediment has created a lack of tidal water flow to the pond site creating an area devoid of significant marine life at this time. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of an existing resort.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to infill an existing lagoon 0.169 acres in size by the placement of 1,873 cubic yards of material. The culvert is blocked and has secluded the lagoon from proper tidal water flow since Hurricane Irma in September 2017. A future expansion of the existing pool is proposed and the depth elevation of the pool will not require additional dredging or digging.
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:
“Existing slope away from rip rap and other surface water is to remain. Prevention measures will be taken with the use of silt fencing, see drawing L.1.2.1 for more information.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: “Per the vegetation and biological study performed, the existing lagoon cannot sustain any marine or vegetation life. The culvert is also blocked and does not allow for proper tidal water flow. The existing lagoon was inundated with a significant storm surge that deposited marine sediments and debris leaving remnants of aquatic vegetation of poor quality and high mortality.”
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 those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
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 proposal would impact approximately 0.169 acres of open water utilized by various life stages of the invertebrates and fishes that may utilize the area. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the snapper-grouper complex. 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 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 Miami Permits Section, 9900 Southwest 107th Avenue, Miami, FL 33176 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 Megan Clouser at the letterhead address, by electronic mail at Megan.L.Clouser@usace.army.mil, by fax at 305-526-7184, or by telephone at 305-526-7182.
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.