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SAJ-2017-2021 (BJC-SP)

Published May 10, 2018
Expiration date: 6/9/2018

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:
Tall Castle Development
Attn: Mr. Mark Maciel
940 W. Oakland Avenue
Oakland, Florida 34787

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The 150-acre St. Cloud Airfield project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Kissimmee subbasin (HUC 03090101). The project site is south of 13th Street, east of Canoe Creek Road, north of West New Nolte Road, and west of Michigan Avenue, in Sections 11 & 14, Township 26 South, Range 28 East, Osceola County, Florida.

Directions to the site are as follows: From FL 192 head south on Michigan Avenue approximately three quarters a mile. The parcel is on the right side of Michigan Avenue and extends west to Missouri Avenue.

APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:

Latitude: 28.233726°
Longitude: -81.282834°

PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic: Residential Development

Overall: Construction of a residential housing development in north central Osceola County, Florida.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The St. Cloud Airfield property supports eight distinct land use types/vegetative communities within its boundaries (Figure 5). These areas were identified utilizing the Florida Land Use, Cover Forms Classification System, Level III (FLUCFCS). These land use types/vegetative communities include uplands and wetland/other surface water systems. The upland community within the subject property is best described as Improved Pasture (211) and Pine Flatwoods (411). The wetland/other surface water communities consist of Streams and Waterways (510), Reservoirs (530), Cypress (621), Wetland Forested Mix (630), Freshwater Marsh (641) and Wet Prairie (643). A total of 28.93 wetlands and surface waters are located within the project limits.
The following provides a brief description of each land use types/vegetative communities identified on the site:
Uplands:

211 Improved Pasture
The majority of the uplands within the project site consist of improved pasture. This property was historically a grassed airfield constructed in the 1960’s as noted in a review of the historic aerials. The pasture is vegetated with bahia (Paspalum notatum), rattlebox (Sesbania punicea), and broomsedge bluestem (Andropogon virginicus). Swales associated with the on-site drainage ditches are scattered throughout the pasture.

411 Pine Flatwoods
A small portion of pine flatwoods is located within the southwest corner of the project. This area is limited to an old haul road vegetated with slash pine (Pinus elliottii), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) broomsedge bluestem (Andropogon virginicus), rattlebox (Sesbania punicea), and wiregrass (Aristida stricta).
Wetlands and Surface Waters:

510 Streams & Waterways
Scattered throughout the property are the historic drainage ditches constructed while the property was utilized as an airfield. Vegetation present in these surface waters include primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), dwarf cyperus (Cyperus prolifer). sand cordgrass (Spartina bakerii), soft rush (Juncus effusus), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), cattail (Typha sp.), duck potato (Sagittaria latifolia), bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), water-lily (Nymphaea odorata) and maidencane (Panicum hemitomon). A total of 7.13 acres of ditches are located within the project limits. The depths of these surface waters vary and as such, some are not inundated during the dry season. Historically, these ditches drained the site west to the Canoe Creek Canal which runs diagonally through the site with ultimate discharge to Lake Toho. However, over the years, portions of the ditch system have become disconnected. This disconnection has impacted proper site drainage.

530 Reservoirs
One man-made pond (W3) is located within the project limits and was constructed in the 1960’s during the airfield construction. This pond is 0.66 acre in size. Little wetland vegetation is present within the surface water, most likely owing to depth. However, the steep embankment is vegetated with primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), sand cordgrass (Spartina bakerii), soft rush (Juncus effusus), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera).

621 Cypress
Cypress (Taxodium ascendens) are located in the northwest portion of the project limits. One forested system consists of a small, isolated dome situated between an existing single-family subdivision and the project limits. This wetland is 0.24-acre in size and is isolated. The second cypress system is associated with a larger freshwater marsh. Groundcover vegetation within these wetlands include sand cordgrass (Spartina bakerii), soft rush (Juncus effusus), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), duck potato (Sagittaria latifolia), bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera), camphor, (Cinnamomum camphora), caeserweed (Urena lobata). The 0.24-acre cypress dome does not support any herbaceous wetland vegetation and mostly likely has a short hydroperiod.

630 Wetland Forested Mix
The southern portion of the project site consists of a very low quality forested wetland system. The hydrology of this wetland system has been severely impacted from the historic drainage ditches located along the north and eastern perimeter. A central drainage ditch further impacts the wetland system. The on-site portion of this forested wetland system totals 11.28 acres and extends off-site to the southwest. Canopy vegetation in this system consists of slash pine (Pinus elliottii), laurel oak (Quercus virginiana), cypress (Taxodium ascendens), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), red maple (Acer rubrum), and red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Subcanopy and groundcover species include wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), juvenile canopy tree species, Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), chalky bluestem (Andropogon virginicus), bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), greenbriar (Smilax rotundifolia), muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia), blackberry (Rubus cuneifolius) and guava (Psidium guajava).

641 Freshwater Marsh
Wetland 1 is a 5.13-acre freshwater marsh located in the northeast corner of the project site. Vegetation within this wetland area includes sand cordgrass (Spartina bakerii), soft rush (Juncus effusus), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), duck potato (Sagittaria latifolia), bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera), camphor, (Cinnamomum camphora), caeserweed (Urena lobata). A small stand of cypress is located within this system. A second freshwater marsh (W4) that is located in the southern portion of the property is man-made and 1.35 acres in size. This wetland is part of the original stormwater system for the airfield. The wetland is vegetated with dwarf cyperus (Cyperus prolifer), sand cordgrass (Spartina bakerii), soft rush (Juncus effusus), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), duck potato (Sagittaria latifolia), bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), and wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera).

643 Wet Prairie/Pasture
Surrounding Wetland 4 and adjacent to a portion of the drainage ditch are areas of the pasture that become inundated enough to support wetland vegetation and hydric soils. Though filled for the construction of the airfield, this area is lower in elevation than higher areas of the pasture. Water is impounded in these low areas due to the lack of proper drainage from the ditches within the pasture where historic culverts have been crushed or filled. Vegetation present include bahia (Paspalum notatum), torpedo grass (Panicum repens), scattered wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), red-top panicum (Panicum rigidulum), spikerush (Eleocharis spp.), yelloweyed grass (Xyris spp.).

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill 17.31 acres of waters of the United States for construction of the St. Cloud Airfield 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:

“Elimination and reduction of the proposed southern road extension and joint use pond were not possible as the road/pond were required as a condition of approval by the City of St. Cloud and part of a long-term County roadway plan for that area. However, in regards to the residential site plan, impacts to Wetlands 1 and 2 were avoided. Impacts to the on-site drainage ditches were avoided where possible in consideration that the ditches were constructed centrally within the uplands of the southern portion of the property and therefore unavoidable. Drainage ditches where Sandhill cranes nests were observed were avoided. Despite being utilized by a listed species, the impacts to the remaining drainage ditches were not considered a loss of significant habitat. Reedy Creek mitigation bank is proposed to compensate for the loss of Wetlands 4a and 4b. Modifying the site plan to avoid impacts to Wetland 4a and 4b would result in a small herbaceous wetland with pasture uplands surrounded by roadway and housing. As such, the purchase of credits at Reedy Creek provides for better long term ecological value than Wetlands 4a and 4b. It would be unlikely that this wetland would provide any meaningful habitat for wetland dependent and aquatic species in the post development condition. The preservation of Wetland 2 and the surface water ditches that are known nesting habitat, will continue to provide habitat for wetland dependent and aquatic species.”

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:

“Based on the WRAP Summary, an overall function loss of 8.53 is anticipated from the proposed direct and secondary impacts. Wetland 1 (5.13 acres), Wetland 2 (0.24 acre), Wetland 3 (0.66 acre) and 2.27 acres of the surface waters will remain on-site and continue to provide foraging and nesting habitat. Secondary impacts to the remaining wetlands are addressed through the preservation of 15’minimum/25’ average upland buffers. Compensatory mitigation for the loss of habitat and wetland functions consists of the purchase of 8.53 credits at Reedy Creek Mitigation Bank in two phases.”

CULTURAL RESOURCES:

The Corps has not made an effect determination but is reviewing a cultural resources assessment survey (CRAS) provided by the applicant to identify and evaluate cultural resources within the proposed permit area. After review, the Corps will make an effect determination and 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.

ENDANGERED SPECIES:

Wood Stork: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork and its designated critical habitat. The Corps completed an evaluation of the project based upon the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) South Florida Ecological Services Field Offices Programmatic Concurrence for use with the Wood Stork (January 2010). Use of the Key for Wood Stork resulted in the following sequential determination: A (The project is more than 0.47 miles from a colony site.) > B (Project impacts SFH > 0.5 acres) >C (Project impacts to SFH within a Core Foraging Area of a colony site) >d (Project impacts to SFH have been avoided and minimized to the extent practicable, and compensation (Service approved mitigation bank or as provided in accordance with Mitigation Rule 33 CFR Part 332) for unavoidable impacts is proposed in accordance with the CWA section 404 (b)(I) guidelines and habitat compensation replaces the foraging value matching the hydroperiod of the wetlands affected and provides foraging value similar to, or higher than, that of impacted wetlands) = “not likely to adversely affect” for wood storks. The Corps has FWS concurrence for the proposed activities through the use of the aforementioned determination key.

Eastern Indigo Snake: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect the Eastern Indigo Snake and its designated critical habitat. Based upon review of the Corps and Service’s Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (dated August 1 2017), 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 (The project will impact 25 acres or more of eastern indigo snake habitat = “may affect” for the Eastern indigo snake. The Corps will initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for the eastern indigo snake.

Based on existing habitat types, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have no effect on Audubon’s Crested Caracara (Caracara plancus audubonii), Everglades Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus) Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), 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 17.31 acres of freshwater wetlands which ultimately discharge to Lake Tohopekaliga. 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 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 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, Brandon J. Conroy, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926; by electronic mail at brandon.j.conroy@usace.army.mil; 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 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.