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: Cordova Palms Investment, LLC
Attn: Mr. Jesse Killabrew
77 Almeria Street
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States (wetlands) associated with the Tolomato River and the San Sebastian River. The project site is located west of the intersection of U.S. Highway 1 and Venetian Boulevard, generally between White Castle Road and Big Oak Road, in portions of Sections 9, 10, 15, 50, 51, and 52, Township 6 South, Range 29 East, St. Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is the establishment of a mixed-use (residential/commercial) development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is the establishment of a mixed-use (residential/commercial) development with the concurrent establishment of a portion of State Road 313 to serve the City of St. Augustine greater area.
General: The approximately 367.83-acre project site includes all or portions of properties identified by the St. Johns County Property Appraiser as parcels with the Property Identification Numbers 074290-0000, 072520-0000, 072570-0000, 072590-0000, and 0725910-0000. The topography of the site is varied and generally slopes from mostly pine flatwood upland communities toward depressional wetland areas. The elevations of the property range from approximately 36 feet to 20 feet NGVD. Onsite wetlands retain/detain precipitation and surface flow; and, some flow progresses from onsite wetlands or uplands through a series of ditches and offsite wetlands and/or ditches where it eventually outfalls into the Tolomato River or the San Sebastian River, as the overall site encompasses land associated with the Upper Tolomato River Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 030802010601 and the San Sebastian River HUC 030802010503.
Soils: The project site encompasses seven soil types (map units) identified by the Soil Survey of St. Johns County.
Myakka fine sand (map unit 03): Myakka fine sand is a nearly level, poorly drained soil that occurs in the flatwoods and formed in marine deposits of sandy material. The seasonal high water table is at a depth of less than 10 inches for one to four months in most years. It is at a depth of 40 inches during dry seasons. Typically, the surface layer is black and dark gray fine sand about eight inches thick. The subsurface layer is gray and light gray fine sand about 15 inches thick.
Myakka fine sand, depressional (map unit 04): Myakka fine sand, depressional, is a nearly level, very poorly drained sandy soil that is in shallow depressions in the flatwoods. This soil is covered with four inches to two feet of standing water for six to nine months during most years. Typically, the surface layer is dark gray fine sand about four inches thick. The subsurface layer is fine sand about 17 inches thick. It is light brownish gray in the upper 10 inches, and it is grayish brown in the lower 7 inches.
St. Johns fine sand, depressional (map unit 05): St. Johns fine sand, depressional, is a very poorly drained, nearly level soil in depressions in the flatwoods. This soil is covered with standing water for periods of 6 to 12 months in most years. Typically, the surface layer is black fine sand about 13 inches thick. The subsurface layer is fine sand, which is about 12 inches thick. It is dark gray in the upper three inches and gray in the lower nine inches.
Immokalee fine sand (map unit 07): Immokalee fine sand is a poorly drained, nearly level soil on broad flats and low knolls in the flatwoods. The seasonal high water table is at a depth of less than 10 inches for about two months of the year. It is at a depth of 10 to 40 inches for more than eight months of the year, and it recedes to a depth of more than 40 inches during extended dry periods. Typically, the surface layer is very dark gray fine sand about eight inches thick. The subsurface layer, which is about 32 inches thick, is light gray and white sand.
St. Johns fine sand (map unit 13): St. Johns fine sand is a poorly drained, nearly level soil in broad flatwood areas and landscapes adjacent to drainageways. The seasonal high water table is at a depth of 0 to 15 inches for two to six months and at 15 to 30 inches during periods of lower rainfall in most years under natural conditions. Typically, the surface layer is about seven inches of black fine sand over three inches of very dark gray fine sand. The subsurface layer is gray fine sand that extends to a depth of 15 inches.
Wesconnett fine sand, frequently flooded (map unit 30): Wesconnett fine sand, frequently flooded, is a very poorly drained, nearly level soil in narrow to broad, weakly defined drainageways in the flatwoods. The seasonal high water table is at a depth of less than 10 inches for 6 to 12 months during most years under natural conditions. It is subject to flooding during wet seasons. Typically, the surface layer is covered by partly decomposed leaves, roots, and twigs about three inches thick. The surface layer is black fine sand about eight 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.
Vegetative Communities: The property encompasses six generalized vegetative communities identified by the Florida Land Use, Cover, and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS).
Pine Plantation/Pine Flatwoods (FLUCFCS code 441): This community has a canopy of non-bedded slash pine (Pinus elliottii). Generally, the understory and groundcover are densely vegetated with bitter gallberry (Ilex glabra), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum). In higher areas of the uplands, the site contains scattered sand live oak (Quercus geminata) and rusty lyonia (Lyonia ferruginea). In lower areas of the property fetterbush (Lyonia lucida) becomes a component of the understory.
Roadways (FLUCFCS code 814): One of the site access roadways incorporates Pine Drive. Pine Drive is a platted and improved yet not currently paved roadway.
Upland Cut Ditch (FLUCFCS code 510): There are a network of surface water ditches onsite. These ditches are very deeply incised and typically have a very dense vegetative cover.
Mixed Wetland Hardwoods (FLUCFCS code 617): This community has a canopy of red maple (Acer rubrum), live oak (Quercus virginiana), laurel oak (Quercus hemispherica), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), and blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora). The understory and groundcover include Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense), Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), lizard’s-tail (Saururus cernuus), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and Virginia chain fern (Woodwardia virginica).
Wetland Coniferous Forest (FLUCFCS code 620): This community has a canopy of slash pine. The understory and groundcover includes scattered dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), 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 has a canopy of red maple (Acer rubrum), cypress (Taxodium spp.), sweetgum, slash pine, and blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora). The understory and groundcover includes Chinese tallow, fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), lizard’s-tail (Saururus cernuus), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and Virginia chain fern.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge clean fill over a total of 4.83 acres of wetlands previously determined by the Corps to be within Federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act; and, 2.46 acres of surface water conveyances (ditches).
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 expressed an opinion that the total avoidance of work affecting wetlands was not practical due to the size, location, and orientation of wetlands encompassed by the property. The applicant indicated that the project generally was designed to avoid and eliminate impacts to the larger, higher quality, and more ecologically significant wetlands; and, elected to not access additional upland areas that would have generated more work affecting wetlands. The applicant would avoid and conserve approximately 80.13 acres of remaining wetlands and areas of upland buffers. These avoided areas would be conserved in conjunction with State of Florida, St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) permit requirements.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
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 work proposed. The UMAM calculates that loss as 3.13 units. In consideration of the UMAM, the applicant proposes the purchase of 3.13 credits from the Fish Tail Swamp Mitigation Bank ( ). The Fish Tail Swamp Mitigation Bank is a federally approved mitigation bank with a service area encompassing the project site.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as applicable pursuant to 33 CFR 325, Appendix C and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, by separate letter.
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana): The project site is approximately 17 miles from the
St. Augustine Alligator Farm Wood Stork colony; and, within the Core Foraging Area of this colony. 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 (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 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 previously indicated that they concur with determinations of no effect based on the key for Wood Storks; 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 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 the Tolomato River or San Sebastian 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 Corps previously issued an Approved Jurisdictional Determination for the main project property. The Corps has not yet corroborated the extent of jurisdictional wetlands along the proposed southern access roadway.
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.