Public Notice Notifications

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SAJ-2017-03435 (SP-KRD)

Published April 10, 2018
Expiration date: 5/10/2018

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: Taylor Morrison of Florida, Inc.
551 North Cattlemen Road, Suite 200
Sarasota, Florida 34232

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with wetlands and man-made surface waters that drain into Mill Creek within the Manatee River watershed. The project site is located east of Lorraine Road between State Road 64 and State Road 70 and west of Uihlein Road, in Sections 2, 3, 10, and 11, Township 35 South, Range 19 East, Bradenton, eastern Manatee County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75, take State Road 70 east approximately 4.2 miles and turn north on Lorraine Road for 1.6 miles. The entrance road to Schroeder Manatee Ranch (SMR) Farms is located at 4820 Lorraine Road. The site is to the east.

Latitude 27.275252°
Longitude -82.230013°


Basic: Residential development with a golf course.
Overall: Construct a residential, golf-course community including associated access roads, recreation/ open space areas, and stormwater management facilities in eastern Manatee County.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The site contains 991.84 acres, the majority of which is characterized as uplands (903 +/- acres) and is currently used for agricultural purposes. The site was converted to agricultural use in the early 1970’s and is currently in sod and citrus production and also supports tree nursery operations. The only native upland habitat that remains onsite is characterized by mixed hardwoods that buffers the Mill Creek wetland system (Wetland 35).

The site contains 40.92 acres of wetlands. The jurisdictional wetlands/waters of the US include one large forested system (31.35 acres) that traverses the site and is a tributary of Mill Creek, and ten (10) small systems (9.57 acres) that are heavily overgrown with nuisance/exotic vegetation and either directly ditched or perimeter ditched and 22.87 acres of other surface waters (OWUS) associated with an agricultural ditch network with connection to Mill Creek. The non-jurisdictional waters include 25.12 acres of non-jurisdictional surface waters associated with irrigation swales (14.9 acres), two (2) cattle/irrigation ponds (0.74 acres), and two (2) man-made reservoirs (9.48 acres).

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a residential development with a golf-course and supporting infrastructure that would result in impacts to 25.12 acres of Waters of the U.S., most of which is associated with agricultural ditches (22.87 acres).

The proposed project would result in permanent impacts to 2.25 acres of wetlands as a result of fill (2.22 acres) for the construction of roadways and dredging (0.03 acres) for the construction of stormwater ponds. A total of 0.74 acres of these impacts are proposed to herbaceous wetlands and 1.51 acres of the impacts are associated with forested wetlands.

The proposed project would also result in 22.87 acres of impacts to agricultural ditches (Other Waters of the U.S.) as a result of fill to accommodate construction of the lots, roadways and the golf course.

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: Most of the proposed impacts (22.87 acres) are associated with agricultural ditches which are man-made features interior to the site and are heavily overgrown with nuisance/exotic vegetation including primrose willow, Brazilian pepper, and cattail. Because of the extensive ditch network, impacts to the ditches are necessary for beneficial use of the site and avoidance of ditches would render the site undevelopable.

During the site design process, different site plan alternatives were explored to provide for avoidance and minimization. These efforts focused on preservation of the environmental corridor associated with Mill Creek and the larger wetlands that could reasonably be enhanced post-development to improve wetland function and habitat value for wildlife. These alternatives included, but were not limited to, shifting lots and realigning roadways and other infrastructure to avoid wetlands, limiting proposed roadway crossings over the creek to one (1) crossing, utilizing existing farm road crossings (over the creek) to minimize impacts, modification of typical cross sections of the roadway to narrow the right-of-way width, and consideration of neighborhood design alternatives that would reduce or minimize the impact footprints.

With the exception of the proposed roadway crossing over the creek, all of the proposed wetland impacts are limited to the smaller, disturbed wetlands (Wetlands NE WL-23, 24, 31, 31A) that are surrounded by intensive agricultural uses and are unlikely to be viable systems long-term if preserved. These wetlands were identified as low quality based on their size, predominance of nuisance and exotic vegetation coverage, altered hydrology (from ditching), and surrounding agricultural uses. The degrading condition of these systems is evident when comparing the existing condition to historic aerials which show many of the wetlands have transitioned from herbaceous systems to exotic hardwood wetlands. These wetlands are also completely surrounded by citrus or sod fields, have virtually no native buffer and no connectivity with the creek corridor or other native habitats. Impacts to these small, disturbed wetlands (Wetlands NE WL-23, 24, 31, 31A) total 1.49 acres, most of which are necessary for roadway alignments.

Under the current site plan, no impacts are proposed to the Mill Creek wetland system with the exception of the road crossing (0.76 acres of impact) which is necessary to link the north and south sides of the development. The width of the crossing has been reduced relative to the typical road profile, and the crossing has been sited along an existing farm road to minimize the impact footprint. A box culvert will be placed at ordinary high water (OHW) elevation to maintain existing surface water flow and hydrology.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: There are no ACOE-approved mitigation banks within the Manatee River Watershed. Therefore, mitigation will be provided onsite to compensate for proposed wetland impacts (2.25 acres total). A total of 8.08 acres of mitigation will be provided through preservation and enhancement of Wetlands WL-19, 20, 21, 22, 25, and 26. Wetland enhancement will be provided through the removal of nuisance/exotic and invasive plant species, the removal of agricultural runoff into the wetlands, as well as the elimination of agricultural drainage ditches that have altered wetland hydrology. In addition, the wetlands will be replanted where necessary with native species to improve community structure and provide a seed source for natural recruitment following removal of invasive species.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. However, the applicant indicated in the application that a Cultural Resources Assessment Survey (CRAS) is currently being conducted. Once the Corps receives a copy of the CRAS, further coordination will be conducted with the Florida State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and 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 SHPO and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: Pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and based upon information provided by the applicant, the Corps has made the following effects determination for the following listed species under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS): Audubon’s Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway), Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi), Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), and the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). Due to the project location inland of tidal waters, the project will have no effect on any listed species under the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

Audubon’s Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway): The site is within the consultation area for caracaras. The site does not contain any cabbage palm hammocks. A few individual cabbage palms were examined for potential nests and no nests or individuals were observed during the recent listed species surveys (October through December 2017); however, the surveys were conducted outside of the accepted survey window for caracaras. Therefore, potential for caracaras nesting on this site is low. The Corps has made the determination that the proposed project would have no effect on the caracara and no further consultation with the USFWS is necessary.

Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi): The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo Snake. This determination was made using the 2013 Effect Determination Key for the Eastern Indigo Snake (A>B>C>D>E>NLAA) and the applicant will also follow the USFWS’s Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake (August 2013) to minimize concerns for indigo snakes during construction. Pursuant to the key, no further consultation with the USFWS is necessary.

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus): Although the project is located within the consultation area for the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow, the project area does not contain any suitable habitat for this species. Therefore, the Corps has determined the project would have no effect on the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow and no further consultation is required with USFWS.

Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens): The project area does not contain any suitable habitat for Florida Scrub-Jay. Therefore, the Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on the Florida Scrub-Jay and no further consultation is required with USFWS.

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana): The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork and its suitable foraging habitat (SFH). This determination was made using the 2008 Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork (A (Project more than 2,500 ft. of colony site) > B (Impacts to SFH) > C (Impact to SFH > 0.5 acre) > D (Project within a CFA)> E (Project provides SFH compensation)). Following the USFWS Wood Stork Foraging Habitat Assessment Methodology, the applicant determined that the proposed impacts to the wetlands (2.25 acres), jurisdictional ditches (22.87 acres) and preamble waters (25.12 acres) provide a loss of 3.52 kg of wetland prey biomass for wood storks. Loss of SFH in these impacts areas will be offset by wetland enhancement (38.67 acres of preserved and mitigation wetlands). These habitat enhancements are assessed with a pre-development production of 47.19 kg and a post-development net production of 106.45 kg of wetland prey biomass. This provides an increase of 55.73 kg from pre-development conditions across the site. The project will likely provide additional foraging opportunity for wading birds as a result of the stormwater ponds constructed during development that have not been accounted for in the assessment. Therefore, the foraging analysis findings show a net increase to wood stork wetland foraging prey biomass which is considered SFH compensation. Pursuant to the key and subsequent MANLAA determination, no further consultation with the USFWS is necessary.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on EFH. The project site is located inland of any tidal waters or freshwater rivers, the proposal would not impact any EFH habitat does not require consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996.

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 lines have 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 via standard mail to the attention of the District Engineer through the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610 or via electronic mail to the project manager, Katy Damico, at within thirty (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 and surface waters. 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 Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at; 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.