Public Notice Notifications

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Florida - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the State of Florida.

Antilles - This includes all public notices for projects being reviewed for Standard Permits within the Antilles area (this includes Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands).

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Special Issues - These are public notices that involve the Regulatory program but which are generally not limited to one particular geographic area. These would include public notices for the establishment or modification of Restricted Areas/Danger Zones, re-issuance of General Permits or Nationwide Permits, changes to guidance and policies, etc.

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SAJ-2005-04698 (SP-MRE)

Published Aug. 28, 2018
Expiration date: 9/18/2018
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:  Morgan’s Cove Ventures LLC
                       Attn: John Byrnes
                       P.O. Box 22547
                       St. Simons Island, GA 31522

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (wetlands) associated with Moultrie Creek. The project site is located north of State Road 214, east of Interstate 95, west of Cowan Swamp, in Sections 20 and 28, Township 7 South, Range 29 East, in St. Johns County, Florida.

                                                                          Longitude -81.396°


Basic: The basic project purpose is residential development.

Overall: The overall project purpose is the construction of a single-family residential community in central St. Johns County.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site encompasses four community types characterized by the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS). These community types are Pine Plantation (FLUCCS code 441), Ditches (FLUCCS code 513), Ponds (FLUCCS code 530), and Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCCS code 630).

Pine Plantation (FLUCCS code 441): The uplands on the subject property (approximately 185.94 acres) are 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 more than 20 years ago. Other canopy species found at a much lesser extent include live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), and water oak (Quercus nigra). Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is the dominant understory species. Other understory species found at a lesser extent include gallberry (Ilex glabra), greenbrier (Smilax spp.), and grapevine (Vitis rotundifolia), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum). The uplands on the subject property have been impacted by the pine silviculture land use operations and fire suppression.

Ditches (FLUCCS code 513): Multiple surface water ditches, totaling approximately 4.11 acres, are found along the existing access road.

Ponds (FLUCCS code 530): Multiple upland cut surface water ponds are also located on the subject property. The surface water ponds total approximately 9.92 acres.

Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCCS code 630): Multiple wetland communities (totaling approximately 78.91 acres) on the subject property are each classified as mixed canopy systems containing both conifers and hardwoods. The canopy of each is closed and is comprised primarily of a mix of cypress (Taxodium spp.), swamp tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora), slash pine, red maple (Acer rubrum), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), American elm (Ulmus americana), laurel oak, sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum), and dahoon holly (Ilex cassine). The ground cover is limited due to the closed canopy but does have areas of buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus), beakrush (Rhynchospora spp.), bogbutton (Lachnocaulon spp.), and yellow-eyed grass (Xyris spp.).

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization discharge fill material over a total of 0.90 acre of wetlands and 1.53 acres of ditches supporting wetland conditions to facilitate the construction of a single-family residential community, including infrastructure and stormwater management features.

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 Corps previously authorized the establishment of a mixed-use (residential/commercial) development at the project site. That Department of the Army permit expired prior to the implementation of the authorized work. In consideration of current market trends, the applicant revised the project design, reduced the area of work affecting wetlands, and eliminated the commercial development adjacent to County Road 214. The revised project would only provide moderate to lower cost residential housing for this region of St. Johns County (no commercial component). The work proposed is mainly associated with the establishment of the site infrastructure (roads), as the current un-improved roadway must be enlarged to meet safety standards. The applicant expressed an opinion that the work proposed is the minimum necessary to successfully establish a residential subdivision at the site.

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

Compensatory mitigation for the work proposed would be accomplished through the preservation, enhancement, and management of 50 acres of wetlands and 38.08 acres of uplands onsite, providing protection to headwater wetlands of Moultrie Creek.


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 proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) and Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi).

The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area of a Wood Stork colony and the project site encompasses Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for Wood Stork. The project would eliminate approximately 1.53 acres of SFH; however, would establish approximately 4.72 acres of SFH. In consideration of this information, the Corps utilized The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville Ecological Services Field Office and State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork, September 2008, to determine potential effects upon this species. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-D-E-may affect but not likely to adversely affect. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for Wood Stork; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.

Eastern Indigo Snake frequents several habitat types, including pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, high pine, dry prairie, tropical hardwood hammocks, edges of freshwater marshes, agricultural fields, coastal dunes, and human-altered habitats. Therefore, this species could utilize the area encompassed by the ESA scope of analysis for this project. Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) burrows are commonly utilized as refuge from winter cold and/or desiccating conditions in xeric habitats; and, hollowed root channels, hollow logs, or burrows of rodents, armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), or land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi) provide shelter in wetter habitats. A recent survey of the project site identified fewer than 25 active/inactive gopher tortoise burrows on the property; and, less than 25 acres of xeric habitat. In consideration of the potential presence of eastern indigo snake habitat, the Corps utilized The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, August 2013. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-C-D-E-may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, as the applicant has agreed to implement the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake, August 12, 2013. The FWS has indicated that they concur with determinations of may affect, not likely to adversely affect based on the key for eastern indigo snakes; and, that no additional consultation is necessary

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 on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have an adverse effect on EFH. 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 re-verified the extent of Federal jurisdiction.

AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification will be required through the St. Johns River Water Management District.

COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District through the Jacksonville Permits Section, P.O. Box 4970, Jacksonville, FL 32232 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, 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 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.