Public Notice Notifications

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SAJ-2018-01403 (SP-MRE)

Published Aug. 1, 2018
Expiration date: 8/30/2018
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:  Palm Coast 145, LLC
                       Attn: Mr. David Blessing
                       7070 NW 84th Avenue
                       Parkland, Florida 33067

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (wetlands) associated with Black Branch Swamp. The project site is located north of the intersection of U.S. Highway 1 and County Road 304 (Flagler County Property Appraiser Parcel Identification Number 25-12-30-1500-00010-0010), in Section 25 North, Township 12 South, Range 30 East, Dupont, Flagler County, Florida.

                                                                          Longitude -81.226744°


Basic: The basic project purpose is commercial and residential development.

Overall: The overall project purpose is a mixed-use (commercial and residential) development serving Palm Coast, Florida.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site encompasses approximately 145 acres of land.

Soils: The project site encompasses six soil types identified by the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service Soil Survey of Flagler County, Florida.

1. Hicoria, Riviera, and Gator Soils, Depressional (map unit 8): This is a very deep, nearly level, poorly drained soil found in depressions in the flatwoods. Individual areas are circular to irregular in shape and range from 3 to 1,500 acres. The undrained areas of this map unit are ponded, as much as 24 inches of water is above the surface for 6 months or more except during extended dry periods. This soil on the subject property does not pond as described above due to the drainage features found onsite.

2. EauGallie fine sand (map unit 9): This is a very deep, nearly level, poorly drained soil on broad flatwoods. Areas in this soil range from 3 to 500 acres. The seasonal high water table is at a depth of 6 to 18 inches for 2 to 4 months of the year. It is at a depth of more than 40 inches during extended dry periods.

3. Myakka fine sand (map unit 11): This is a very deep, nearly level, very poorly drained soil that is in broad flatwood areas. The areas range from 5 to 500 acres. The seasonal high water table is at a depth of 6 to 18 inches for 1 to 4 months of the year. It is at a depth of 10 to 40 inches for more than 6 months of the year.

4. Placid, Basinger, St. Johns soils (map unit 12): This is a very poorly drained, nearly level soil in depressions in flatwoods. Areas in this soil are irregular in shape and range from 3 to 400 acres. The undrained areas of this map unit are ponded, as much as 24 inches of water is above the surface for 6 months or more except during extended dry periods. This soil on the subject property does not pond as described above due to the drainage features found onsite.

5. Valkaria fine sand (map unit 19): This is a very deep, nearly level, poorly drained soil on low broad flats and in sloughs connecting depressions. Areas in this soil are irregular and range from 5 to 100 acres. The seasonal high water table is at a depth of 0 to 6 inches for 2 to 6 months of the year. It is at a depth of 10 to 40 inches during extended dry periods.

6. Uderants, moderately wet (map unit 29): This map unit consists of heterogeneous soil material that was removed from other soils and used in land-leveling operations as fill material. Uderants do not have an orderly sequence of soil layers.

Vegetative Communities: The site encompasses five community types characterized by the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS).

1. Pine Plantation (FLUCFCS code 441): The uplands on the subject property (approximately 88.18 acres) are categorized as active pine plantation. The canopy is defined by row planted slash pine (Pinus elliottii). The pines on the property are of mature size and appear to have been planted approximately 20 years ago. Other canopy species include scattered live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), and water oak (Quercus nigra). The understory primarily consists of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) with scattered gallberry (Ilex glabra), greenbrier (Smilax spp.), and grapevine (Vitis rotundifolia), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum).

2. Ditches and Canals (FLUCCS code 513): Multiple surface water ditches and canals are found throughout the property. These features total approximately 3.46 acres in size. A large, main drainage canal diagonally traverses the northeast region of the property and connects to a second drainage canal paralleling the eastern border of the property. This overall system appears to enter the property from the northern border at two locations and continue east off of the property.

3. Ponds (FLUCCS code 530): The property encompasses a large borrow area, which is approximately 5.64 acres in size. The interior of the borrow area is only slightly below natural grade; and, therefore, only ponds water during the wet season. This area is surrounded by a deeper, excavated canal, which appears to have a depth greater than six feet below the natural ground elevation. This excavated canal holds water all year.

4. Cypress, Pine, Cabbage Palm (FLUCCS code 624): The property supports multiple Cypress, Pine, Cabbage Palm wetlands systems (totaling approximately 47.17 acres). These wetlands have been affected by the drainage ditches traversing the site and by years of pine silviculture operations within or adjacent to these wetlands. The canopy of these systems is dominated by slash pine and cypress (Taxodium spp.). Other canopy species include swamp tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), loblolly bay, red maple (Acer rubrum), sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), and water oak. The understory includes dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), saw palmetto, cabbage palm, shiny lyonia (Lyonia lucida), bushy broom grass (Andropogon glomeratus), blue maidencane (Amphicarpum muhlenbergianum), beakrush (Rhynchospora spp.), Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), cinnamon fern, yellow-eyed grass (Xyris spp.), and lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus). Within the lower elevations of each wetland, the canopy is dominated by more cypress and the understory is more open with ferns; however, in many of the wetlands the canopy is dominated by pine and the understory has a higher density of saw palmetto and lyonia.

5. Freshwater Marsh (FLUCCS code 641): Two small freshwater marsh systems (totaling approximately 1.03 acres) are located on the subject property. Both of these marshes are found along US 1 and have an open canopy. The groundcover is dominated by Virginia chain fern, royal fern, and beakrush. The soil within these areas contains a mucky surface. Seasonal high water marks were identified slightly above natural ground elevation.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge clean fill material over a total of 19.11 acres of wetlands and 5.89 acres of surface waters to establish a mixed-use (commercial/residential) development, associated infrastructure, and associated storm water management features. The applicant’s ecological agent submitted a Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM) functional analysis of the work proposed. That UMAM quantified and qualified the wetland functional loss associated with the work proposed as 11.29 units.

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:

This project will provided much needed commercial services in the southwestern corridor of the City of Palm Coast. The main intent of the project is to provide a large enough mixed use development in which the residential components can be sustained with the commercial use on the property. The proposed wetland impacts have been reduced from the original 32.29 acres of impact down to 19.11 acres, much of which is necessary for the commercial development along US Highway 1.

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

As compensatory mitigation, the applicant proposes the implementation of permittee-responsible on-site compensatory mitigation and the purchase of mitigation bank credits. Specifically, onsite, the applicant proposes the enhancement of 28.76 acres of wetlands and 15.12 acres of adjacent uplands through the thinning of slash pine trees from the current 700-800 stems per acre to approximately 200 or less stems per acre. The applicant also would implement an invasive/exotic vegetation management plan. These wetlands and uplands would be perpetually preserved through the execution of conservation easements. The UMAM submitted by the applicant’s ecological agent calculated the functional lift of this permittee-responsible mitigation as 1.15 units. Therefore, to compensate the remaining wetland functional loss, the applicant proposes the purchase of 10.14 UMAM-based mitigation bank credits from a federally authorized mitigation bank with a service area encompassing the project site.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of an historic site within 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 coerulescens): The project site is within a consultation area identified by the Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for this species; and, a Florida Scrub Jay nest/colony is located approximately 7.4 miles east of the project site, within the North Peninsula State Park. Therefore, this species may forage at the project site. There is no designated critical habitat for the Florida Scrub Jay listed in the federal register (52 FR 20715-20719). However, information from the FWS indicates that the Florida Scrub Jay has extremely specific habitat requirements. It is endemic to peninsular Florida’s ancient dune ecosystem or scrubs, which occur on well drained to excessively well drained sandy soils. Relict oak-dominated scrub, or xeric oak scrub, is essential habitat to the Florida Scrub Jay. Optimal habitat incorporates four species of stunted, low growing oaks [sand live oak (Quercus geminata), Chapman oak (Quercus chapmanii), myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), and scrub oak (Quercus inopina)] that are 1-3 meters high, interspersed with 10 to 50 percent non-vegetated sandy openings, with a sand pine (Pinus clausa) canopy of less than 20 percent. Therefore, Florida Scrub Jay habitat is absent from the project site. It is likely that this species only opportunistically forages within forested areas within and near the project site, which the project would diminish but not preclude. Considerable natural foraging habitat also occurs around the noted colony, other colonies in the area, and between those colonies and the project site. In consideration of the lack of appropriate habitat at the site, the local abundance of foraging habitat, and the distance to the nearest colony/colonies, the Corps has determined that the project would have no effect upon this species.

The Corps executed a Resources At Risk (RAR) report. The RAR did not indicate that the site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species. The Corps also reviewed geospatial data and other available information. The Corps has not received or discovered any information that the project site is utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, any other federally listed threatened or endangered species.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): This notice initiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. The project would not affect marine or estuarine habitat; or, any area identified as EFH by the NMFS. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have an adverse impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in 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 Corps has not verified the proposed delineation of wetlands. In addition, the Corps has not completed an evaluation of the proposed UMAM (i.e., the proposed calculation of functional loss associated with the project and the proposed calculation of functional gain associated with the on-site permittee-responsible compensatory mitigation).

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 Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 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, Mark R. Evans, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232; by electronic mail at; by facsimile transmission at (904)232-1940; or, by telephone at (904)232-2028.

IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with the FWS, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the NMFS, 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.