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:
APPLICANTS: City of Orlando
400 S. Orange Ave., City Hall Orlando, FL 32802
Dr. Phillips, Inc.
7400 Dr. Phillips Blvd. Orlando, FL 32819
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The 80.6 ± acre Packing District Park project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Wekiva River Basin, which is part of the Upper St. Johns River Watershed (HUC 03080101). The project site is located in the City of Orlando, east of John Young Parkway and south of Princeton St., within Sections 16 and 21, Township 22 South, Range 29 East in Orange County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From the Cocoa field office, head west on the 528 (Beachline). Turn north onto the 417, then head west on the 408. Take the 408 to John Young Parkway and head north. At the intersection of John Young Parkway and Princeton, turn right (east). Travel approximately 0.3 mile and there is a road along the west side of the canal that leads into the property.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: multi-use development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is development of multi-family residential with a recreational facility, and a regional recreational park which includes a wetland park, trails, open spaces/gathering areas, a tennis center and other recreational fields (soccer/flex fields), compensating storage areas and a regional stormwater pond within the City of Orlando, Orange County, Florida.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The property within this project includes both the City of Orlando and Dr. Phillips, Inc. as owners. In addition to the Packing District Park, Dr.
Phillips, Inc. owns 80+ acres immediately east of this site. These additional lands are fully developed and primarily include industrial uses and other businesses. Dr. Phillips, Inc. is planning an extensive redevelopment of these properties and will convert many of the industrial uses to non-industrial uses (office, retail, multi-family). Many of the buildings will remain, but the interiors will be redesigned for non-industrial uses (i.e. adaptive reuse). This will maintain the historic character of the Packing District area, while providing an alternative use of the land. The large regional pond proposed within the Packing District Park project would also provide retrofit stormwater treatment for redevelopment areas within the Dr. Phillips, Inc. adjacent land holdings.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: A large canal is located adjacent to the Packing District Park site along the eastern and southern boundaries. This canal conveys untreated stormwater from the currently developed parcels directly into Lake Lawne, which is classified as an impaired water body. This water drains to the Little Wekiva River.
All of the wetlands within this project site are highly altered systems as a result of the adjacent canal systems and roadways. Soil oxidation from 1- to 4-feet can be found in many of the wetlands, especially those adjacent to the canal systems. Nuisance and exotic species are prevalent within the wetlands and minimal recruitment of native wetland species is found in any of the wetland areas.
The availability of habitats outside the assessment area provides limited support due to the highly developed nature of the land use surrounding the wetland. The major roadways (John Young Parkway and Princeton Street), the large drainage canal and the existing development has resulted in a greatly reduced hydroperiod within the wetland system as evidenced by the lack of soil moisture and the oxidation and reduction of the soil profile throughout the wetland (up to 4-feet in some areas). The wetland system is dry throughout, and the soils are showing significant signs of oxidation, which is characteristic of a severely reduced hydroperiod. There is limited evidence of use by animal species with specific hydrologic requirements; those species present have more generalized hydrologic requirements. The majority of the plant community composition consists of transitional and/or nuisance/exotic species.
On-site vegetative communities documented on the Subject Parcel were classified using the Florida Land Use Cover & Forms Classification System. Using data from aerial photography, published resources and by ground-truthing, a total of four vegetative communities were documented on the project site:
411 – Pine Flatwoods
The dominant land use within the Subject Parcel consists of Pine Flatwoods. The primary vegetation of this community type is slash pine (Pinus elliottii), live oak (Quercus virginiana), a heavy understory of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), greenbriar
(Smilax sp.), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and large patches of dense blackberry (Rubus sp.).
617 – Mixed Wetland Hardwoods
This area includes the small wetland in the northwest corner of the site and the large wetland along the southern boundary.
The small wetland in the northwest corner of the site primarily consists of red maple (Acer rubrum) and laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia) in the canopy. The subcanopy consists of red maple, laurel oak and wax myrtle. There was very little groundcover in this area.
The southern wetland includes more a blend of species and less of a red maple component. This area contains bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), swamp bay (Persea palustris), Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera), earpod tree (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), red maple, and water oak (Quercus nigra). These species are found throughout different parts of the wetland. Groundcover consists of swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum), wild taro (Colocasia esculenta), sword fern (Polystichum munitum), Asian sword fern (Nephrolepis brownii), elephant ear (Colocasia sp.), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), and dense pockets of blackberry. Additional species in this area include lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) and scatttered grapevine (Vitis sp.). Certain portions of this wetland are heavily infested by sewer vine (Paederia cruddasiana).
The hydrology in this wetland is highly altered, with evidence of soil reduction of up to 3-feet in most areas.
621 – Cypress
This is the wetland in the northeastern corner of the site. The northern portion of this wetland primary includes bald cypress in the canopy. Other species include sweetbay, dahoon holly, earpod tree, Chinese tallow tree, Peruvian primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), scattered Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia), laurel oak, wax myrtle, greenbriar, Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica) and some royal fern.
The southern portion of this wetland contains a denser canopy of earpod trees mixed with the cypress. All strata within this area are heavily infested by sewer vine. The groundcover consists of wild taro, blackberry, sword fern, and swamp fern.
The hydrology in both of these wetlands is highly altered, with evidence of soil reduction of 2-3 feet in certain areas.
742 – Borrow Area
This area was excavated from the uplands and was included on the SJRWMD Formal Wetland Determination as a wetland; therefore, it is being included to be consistent with
the previous approval. This area includes species such as Chinese tallow tree, wax myrtle and live oak.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill 12.32 acres of waters of the United States (11.74 acres wetland and 0.58 acre canal) for construction of the Packing District Park project.
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:
“Multiple alternative sites were evaluated for the location of this project and multiple site plans were evaluated once the preferred site was selected. All of the wetlands within this project site are highly altered systems as a result of the adjacent canal systems and roadways. Soil oxidation from 1 to 4 feet can be found in many of the wetlands especially those adjacent to the canal systems. Nuisance and exotic species are prevalent within the wetlands, as well. Most of the impacts have been directed to the wetlands adjacent to the major road systems (John Young Parkway and Princeton Street)”.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Mitigation will be in the form of purchase of 4.13 wetland credits at the Wekiva River Mitigation Bank.”
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.
The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of a wood stork rookery; the project supports marginally Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for wood stork. Based on the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida (dated September 2008), the Corps determination sequence was A>B>C>E = “may affect, not likely to adversely affect”. The determination is supported by SFH compensation provided within the service area of a mitigation bank which covers the CFA, and provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of impacted SFH; is not contrary to the Service’s Habitat Management Guidelines For The Wood Stork In The Southeast Region and in accordance with the CWA Section
404(b)(1) guidelines. The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence for the proposed activities through the use of the aforementioned determination key.
The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” the Eastern Indigo Snake. Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Effect Determination Key (dated January 25, 2010; August 13, 2013 Addendum), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: 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 (There are gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities.) >D (The project will impact less than 25 acres of xeric habitat supporting less than 25 active and inactive gopher tortoise burrows ) >E (Any permit will be conditioned such that all gopher tortoise burrows, active or inactive, will be evacuated prior to site manipulation in the vicinity of the burrow) = NLAA. The permittee agrees to use the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake (dated August 12, 2013). If an indigo snake is encountered, the snake must be allowed to vacate the area prior to additional site manipulation in the vicinity. Any permit will also be conditioned such that holes, cavities, and snake refugia other than gopher tortoise burrows will be inspected each morning before planned site manipulation of a particular area, and, if occupied by an indigo snake, no work will commence until the snake has vacated the vicinity of proposed work. The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence for the proposed activities through the use of the aforementioned determination key.
The project is within the Consultation Area for Florida scrub jay and Everglades Snail Kite. Based on existing habitat types, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have no effect on these species.
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
12.32 acres of wetland forested mixed community located in the headwaters of the Wekiva River. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in either the Wekiva or upper St. Johns River. 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 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, Jeffrey Collins, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida, 32926; by electronic mail at Jeffrey.S.Collins@usace.army.mil; by fax at
(321) 504-3803, or by telephone at (321) 504-3771 extension 13.
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.