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: The Villages Land Company, LLC
Attn: Martin L. Dzuro
1020 Lake Sumter Landing
The Villages, FL 32162
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Lake Okahumpka. The proposed roadway would proceed in a south easterly direction and generally lie south of Lake Okahumpka and north of the Florida Turnpike. The proposed roadway would begin on the south side of State Road 44 across from Meggison Road. The proposed roadway would terminate at County Road 468 east of the intersection of the Florida Turnpike and County Road 468. The proposed roadway would traverse sections 16, 17, 21, 27, and 28 in Township 19 South, Range 23 East, Wildwood, Sumter County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Head south on U.S. Highway 301 in Wildwood. Turn East on State Road 44 and proceed to Meggison Road which is located on the north side of State Road 44 east. The proposed roadway would begin on the south side of State Road 44 across from Meggison Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is infrastructure construction.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct a regional roadway providing additional connection between State Road 44 and County Road 468.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. Upland communities comprised 82.17 acres (98.8%) of the Project corridor; wetlands and surface waters comprised 0.96 acre (1.2%) of the proposed corridor area. The characterization of the vegetative communities and land use types was based on the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS). Upland communities within the Project corridor comprised approximately 82.17 acres and consisted of Cropland and Pastureland (210), Improved Pastures (211), Live Oak (427), Hardwood-Coniferous Mixed (434) and Utilities (830)/ Cropland and Pastureland (210). Wetland and surface waters included Ditches (516), Reservoirs (530), Streams and Lake Swamps (Bottomland) (615), and Freshwater Marsh (641), totaling approximately 0.96 acres.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge 7,169 cubic yards of fill material into 0.85 acre of wetlands and other waters of the United States to construct an approximately 3.85 mile roadway connecting State Road 44 to County Road 468 via the route described above.
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 proposed corridor would follow existing field roads and traverse uplands to the greatest extent practicable. The proposed corridor would cross the proposed impact wetlands and waters at their narrowest point, and the applicant aligned the corridor to avoid higher quality wetlands in favor of impacting lower quality wetlands along the proposed route.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: The applicant proposes to purchase mitigation bank credits to offset the unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment that would result from the proposed project.
The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as applicable pursuant to 33 CFR 325, Appendix C and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, by separate letter.
Florida Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma corulescens): The Corps determined that the proposed project would have no effect on this species. The proposed corridor does not contain the scrub oak habitat necessary to support the scrub jay.
Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi): The Corps has determined that the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect this species. Since portions of the proposed project would occur in xeric habitat that could support gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) burrows, the Corps utilized the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, August 2013, to evaluate the project’s potential impacts to the Eastern Indigo Snake. Use of this key resulted in the following sequential determination: ABCDE couplet 1 (Not likely to adversely affect). The applicant stated that it would implement the Standard Indigo Snake Protection Measures, August 2013. The project will impact less than 25 acres of xeric habitat supporting less than 25 active and inactive gopher tortoise burrows. Any burrows would be evacuated prior to site manipulation. In light of these facts, the Corps determined that the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo Snake.
Wood stork (Mycteria americana): The Corps has determined that the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the Wood stork. Since the applicant’s proposal involves work within suitable foraging habitat for wood storks, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office, and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008 to evaluate the proposed project’s potential impact on wood storks. Use of this key produced the following sequence indicating that that the project is not likely to affect the wood stork: ABCE (not likely to adversely affect). The proposed project is located more than 2,500 feet from an active nesting colony. The proposed project site is not located within the core foraging area of any known nesting colony. The applicant proposes to provide compensation for unavoidable impact to suitable forging habitat wetlands and waters via the purchase of mitigation bank credits. In light of these facts, the Corps determined that the proposed project is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork.
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 freshwater wetlands that do not support EFH or any Federally managed fishery. Thus, our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. 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 Tampa Permits Section, Gainesville Field Office, 2833 NW 41st Street, Unit 130, Gainesville, FL 32606,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, James “Bo” Davidson, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, Gainesville Field Office, 2833 NW 41st Street, Unit 130, Gainesville, FL 32606; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (352)264-7733; or, by telephone at (352)264-7672.
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.