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) and as described below:
APPLICANT: South Road Wellington, LP
c/o Douglas Kelly, Managing Member
P.O. Box 1308
Houston, TX 77251
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with jurisdictional wetlands and other surface waters. The project site is located at 4155 South Road (P.C.N. 73-41-44-29-00-000-3020) and 4175 South Road (P.C.N. 73-41-44-29-00-000-3030), Section 29, Township 44 South, Range 41 East, in Wellington, within Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95 and Lake Worth Road, head west on Lake Worth Road for 12.3 miles, turn left onto South Shore Boulevard and proceed 125 feet, take the first right onto 40th Street South and proceed for 0.7 miles, turn left onto Palm Beach Point Boulevard and proceed for 1.2 miles, take the first right onto South Road and proceed approximately 0.5 miles. The project is on the left.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Latitude: 26.6214° N
Longitude: -80.2806° W
Basic: Equestrian Recreation.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct an equestrian facility within western Palm Beach County, Florida.
PROJECT HISTORY: The applicant received a permit, SAJ-2005-03087, dated May 1, 2013 to fill 0.27 acres of jurisdictional freshwater wetlands to construct an earthen privacy berm along the eastern perimeter of the two adjoining parcels.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The total area of the two parcels combined equals 52.84 acres. Parcel 1 located at 4155 South Road (P.C.N. 73-41-44-29-00-000-3020) is 30.01 acres and Parcel 2 located at 4175 South Road (P.C.N. 73-41-44-29-00-000-3030) is 22.83 acres. The Corps confirmed the locations of four wetlands and two non-wetland waters located on site, during the August 2, 2018 site visit. The project includes a total of 4 acres of wetlands, and 1-acre of non-wetland waters. Portions of wetlands 1 and 2 were previously impacted for the construction of the permitted berm in 2013. The existing boundaries as identified during the August 2nd site visit of Wetlands 1 and 2 most closely resemble wet prairie freshwater wetlands, dominated by clustered beakrush (Rhynchospora cephalantha), purple nut grass (Cyperus rotundus), and Bahia grass (Paspalum notum). While wetlands 3 and 4 located immediately adjacent and/or connected to the non-wetland waters, contained vegetation more consistent with freshwater littoral wetlands. Vegetation included swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum), dollar weed (hydrocotyl sp), cattail (Typha sp.), spatterdock, and lanceleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia), with portions containing a canopy of Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia). The wetlands to be impacted are disturbed and are of low quality and have been used as pasture for cattle. The existing area surrounding the project site consists mostly of pastures and equestrian facilities.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to fill approximately 4 acres (28,000 cubic yards of material) of jurisdictional freshwater wetlands and 1 acre of non-wetland waters within a 52.84 acre site for the construction of an equestrian training and housing facility consisting of a polo field, horse paddocks, horse stalls, facility parking and two dry detention areas totaling 7.72 acres (consisting of a 2.03 area on the northwest of the parcel and a 5.69 acre dry detention area on the southwest of the parcel).
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 applicant stated that they “reviewed different site configurations in an effort to reduce or eliminate impacts on wetlands. However, if most or all impacts to wetlands and waters of the US were eliminated, the development would not be feasible from a size and cost perspective. Furthermore, the waters and wetlands are very poor quality from agricultural use on the property for many years. It is not ecologically feasible to preserve small areas of isolated, poor quality wetlands that would not be sustainable in the long term.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has proposes to compensate for the unavoidable impacts to wetlands by purchasing herbaceous mitigation credits from FP&L Everglades Mitigation Bank.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposal may affect the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi). The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork (Mycteria americana) because the proposed project is located within 18.6 miles of three wood stork nesting colonies and suitable foraging habitat is located within the project footprint. The Corps utilized the South Florida Programmatic Concurrence Key for the Wood Stork dated May 18, 2010, and determined that the project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork (path A-B-C-E) provided the loss of suitable foraging habitat will be replaced. No further consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is required for the wood stork pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. If it is determined that the wood stork foraging habitat would not be replaced, coordination with the FWS would be conducted by separate letter.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): 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. No EFH is located within or areas affected by the project.
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 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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 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, Jerilyn Ashworth, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; by electronic mail at Jerilyn.Ashworth@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (561) 472-3508.
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.