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: Lightsey Road, LLC
Attn: Mr. Samuel Easton
300 East State Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Moultrie Creek. The project site is located east and west of Lightsey Road Extension (St. Johns County Property Appraiser Parcel Identification Numbers 100850-0000 and 1011270-0000), north of Lightsey Road, in Sections 27 and 24, Township 7 South, Range 29 East, St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 29.858681°
Basic: The basic project purpose is residential development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is the establishment of a Planned Urban Development (PUD) serving the overall City of St. Augustine.
Soils – The Soil Survey of St Johns County, Florida [U.S.D.A., Soil Conservation Service (SCS), 1983] indicates that the project site encompasses five soil types.
Pomona fine sand (map unit 09): Pomona fine sand is a poorly drained, nearly level soil is in broad areas in the flatwoods. The seasonal high water table is within 10 inches of the surface for one to three months and is at a depth of 10 to 40 inches for six months or more. During extended dry periods, the water table recedes to a depth of more than 40 inches. Typically, the surface layer is black to very dark gray fine sand about six inches thick. The subsurface layer, which is about 15 inches thick, is gray and light gray fine sand.
Samsula muck (map unit 26): Samsula muck is a very poorly drained soil in narrow to broad swamps and depressional areas in the flatwoods. Under natural conditions, in most years, the seasonal high water table is at or above the surface, except during extended dry periods. Typically, the surface layer is black muck about 31 inches thick.
Riviera fine sand, frequently flooded (map unit 36): Riviera fine sand, frequently flooded is a poorly drained, nearly level soil in poorly defined drainageways and on flood plains. The seasonal high water table is within 10 inches of the surface for two to four months in most years. It is below a depth of 40 inches in driest seasons. This soil is subject to flooding for up to three months during times of high rainfall. Typically, the surface layer is gray fine sand about 10 inches thick. The subsurface layer is light gray fine sand to a depth of 23 inches.
Bluff sandy clay loam, frequently flooded (map unit 42): Bluff sandy clay loam, frequently flooded is a very poorly drained, nearly level soil in drainageways and on flood plains. The seasonal high water table is at a depth of less than 10 inches or is above the surface for six months or more. It seldom recedes to a depth of more than 20 inches. The soil is subject to frequent flooding for long durations. Typically, in undisturbed areas a three-inch layer of black muck is on the surface. The surface layer is very dark gray sandy clay loam about six inches thick.
Winder fine sand, frequently flooded (map unit 48): Winder fine sand, frequently flooded is a poorly drained, nearly level soil that formed in loamy marine materials. The seasonal high water table is within a depth of 10 inches for two to six months during most years. The soil is subject to flooding for periods up to three months during times of high rainfall in most years. Typically, the surface layer is dark gray fine sand about three inches thick. The subsurface layer is light gray fine sand about eight inches thick.
Vegetative Communities: The project site encompasses seven vegetative communities identified by the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS).
Live Oak (FLUCFCS code 427): This community has a canopy of live oak (Quercus virginiana), with lesser amounts of southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), southern red cedar (Juniperus silicicola) and red bay (Persea borbonia). The scattered understory and groundcover consist of beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum).
Pine Plantation (FLUCFCS code 441): This dominant community has a canopy of planted slash pine (Pinus elliottii) with an understory and groundcover of bitter gallberry, saw palmetto, and bracken fern.
Trail road (FLUCFCS code 814): There is an improved above-grade trail road which basically splits the property in half. There are roadside ditches which help facilitate drainage offsite to Moultrie Creek.
Utilities (FLUCFCS code 830): There is a powerline and associated maintenance road on the north and eastern side of the project.
Upland Cut Ditch (FLUCFCS code 510): A network of drainage ditches exist on the project site. The ditches generally drain from north to south. Ultimately, the ditches drain westerly and discharge into Moultrie Creek.
Hydric Pine Plantation (FLUCFCS code 6251): This community has a canopy of planted slash pine. The understory and groundcover is vegetated with scattered Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum), loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica), and pipewort (Eriocaulon sp.).
Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCFCS code 630): This community includes a mix of cypress, red maple (Acer rubrum), laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica var. aquatica), silver bay (Magnolia virginiana), and other species. Subcanopy dominants include fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and Virginia chain fern.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge clean fill material over a total of 30.69 acres of wetlands to facilitate the establishment of a PUD with the associated infrastructure and a stormwater treatment system.
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 evaluated two alternate sites, which were discovered to be unavailable. With respect to the proposed site, an initial investigation of the site did not discover the extensive area of wetlands; and, as such, the applicant initially concluded that work affecting wetlands would be nominal. However, after a thorough inspection of the property, the applicant discovered that the onsite wetlands were more expansive; and, concluded that the orientation, size, and location of those wetlands precluded the total avoidance of work affecting those systems. In an effort to minimize work affecting aquatic systems, the applicant evaluated three potential development plans. The discounted plans would have resulted in additional work affecting wetlands. The applicant expressed an opinion that the work proposed is the minimum necessary to retain the economic viability of the project.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
As compensatory mitigation for the project, the applicant’s ecological agent submitted a Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM) quantifying and qualifying the loss of wetland functions and services associated with the proposal. The proposed UMAM calculates the functional loss as 18.24 units. In consideration of the UMAM, the applicant would purchase 18.24 credits from the Fish Tail Swamp Mitigation Bank (SAJ-2007-05851), which has a service area that encompasses the project site.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: Heritage Services, Incorporated, inspected the project site for potential archeological/historical resources. A Cultural Resource Assessment Survey (CRAS) compiled by Heritage Services, Incorporated, entitled Phase I Cultural Resource Assessment Survey of The Lightsey Road Extension PUD St. Johns County, Florida (August 2018), did not identify any archeological/historical resources/sites eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and recommended no further work. Therefore, in consideration of the CRAS, 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.
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana): The project site is within the Core Foraging Area of two Wood Stork colonies; and, therefore, this species could utilize the area encompassed by the project ESA scope of analysis. However, the work proposed would not affect suitable foraging habitat. 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 in Central and North Peninsular Florida, September 2008, to determine potential effects upon this species. Use of this key resulted in the sequence A-B-no effect. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) previously indicated that they concur with determinations of no effect based on the key for Wood Storks; and, that no additional consultation is necessary.
Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi): This species 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. During multiple site inspections by the applicant’s ecological agent in 2017 and 2018, that consultant did not discover any active or inactive gopher tortoise burrows on the overall property. However, 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-may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, as the applicant would 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. The project would not affect a marine or estuarine habitat nor EFH. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have an impact on EFH or federally managed fisheries in downstream waters of Moultrie Creek or the Matanzas 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 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 Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.