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 Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: Ankush Gulati
C/o Natalia Gibson
11000 Metro Parkway, Suite 4
Fort Myers, FL 33966
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect 2.85 acres of Freshwater Forested/Shrub Wetlands within the Estero Bay Drainage Basin (HUC 10 – 0309020401). The project site is located at 14670 Metro Parkway, in Section 30, Township 45 South, Range 26 East, Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75 take Exit 131 toward Cape Coral/SW Florida International Airport; turn right onto Daniels Parkway and continue on for 2.5 miles; make a left onto 6 Mile Cypress Parkway and continue on for 1.8 miles; turn right and the project site is located at the intersection of Metro Parkway and 6 Mile Cypress Parkway, next to the Speedway Gas Station.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 26.529585°
Basic: The basic project purpose is commercial development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct a specialized medical facility with associated parking, utilities, surface water management system and landscaping.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project would directly impact 2.85 acres of low quality wetlands dominated by exotic woody vegetation less than 20 feet tall. These species include Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), Maelaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia), Earleaf acacia (Acacia auriculiformis) and Caesar weed (Urena lobata). Groundcover consists of Asiatic pennywort (Hydrocotyle spp.) and Para grass (Urochloa mutica).
The natural hydroperiod has been altered based on the adjacent conditions including a railroad grade and the alteration of drainage patterns from culverts and roadside ditches.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place fill within a 3.02 acre area, consisting of 2.85 acres of wetlands, as part of a commercial development; a specialized medical facility.
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:
A number of factors were taken into consideration during the selection of the project site. These factors included: location, appropriate land use and zoning, size of the parcel, frontage on an existing road, and the extent of environmental constraints.
The wetlands on the property are low in quality and dominated by exotic species. Based on the surrounding land uses and lack of adjacent undeveloped areas, offsite mitigation was considered to be the best alternative for the unavoidable wetland impacts. Wetland impacts are necessary in order to best utilize the available land and create a feasible project. Providing the mitigation within an offsite mitigation bank will provide greater benefits than a small, isolated preserve.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
Since all of the wetlands will be impacted by the project, offsite mitigation is being proposed. Offsite mitigation is determined utilizing the appropriate methodology for the designated offsite area or Mitigation Bank. The site is located within the service area of the Panther Island Expansion bank, therefore the purchasing of credits from this bank is proposed for mitigation.
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 executed a Resource at Risk (RAR) report. The RAR indicated that the site may be utilized by, or contains habitat critical to, federally listed threatened or endangered species. The site will be reviewed further for potential critical habitat and presence of endangered species and the findings will be coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Potential federally listed species that may be present within the project area include the:
Everglades snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis)
Florida bonnetted bat (Eumops floridanus)
Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)
Wood stork (Mycteria Americana)
Red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis)
Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi)
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 project is located within freshwater wetlands not contiguous to surface waters, therefore no impacts to essential fish habitat are anticipated. 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 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 Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd., Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919 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, Michelle Bartley, in writing at the Fort Myers Permits Section, 1520 Royal Palm Square Blvd., Suite 310, Fort Myers, Florida 33919 or by electronic mail at email@example.com; or by telephone at (239) 334-1975 ext. 0006.
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.