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: TPA Group
C/o Joe McGorrey
3350 Riverwood Parkway, Suite 750
Atlanta, GA 30339
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Estero drainage basin within the Big Cypress watershed. The project site is located between the south side of Daniels Parkway and the northwest side of Paul J. Doherty Parkway north of Fuel Farm Road on the north side of Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), in Section 19, Township 45 South, Range 26 East, Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75, take Exit 131 and head east on Daniels Parkway to Paul J. Doherty Parkway (approx. 3.1 miles); head south along Paul J. Doherty Parkway to the site located to north of roadway (approx. 0.5 mi.)
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is commercial development.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct a commercial development on leased parcels associated with the overall RSW-Skyplex commercial complex.
BACKGROUND: The Corps issued a permit to the Lee County Board of County Commissioners on August 1, 2016, for the construction of a roadway known as Skyplex Boulevard. The project purpose for this permit was to improve vehicular access from Daniels Parkway to the northern portion of the RSW property. This work is also part of the overall planned 252 acre commercial development known as RSW-Skyplex. The work approved in the issued permit includes the discharge of fill material into 5.68 acres of freshwater wetlands and for the excavation of 1.38 acres of freshwater wetlands associated with a stormwater management system. The current expiration date of the permit is August 1, 2021.
The TPA Group leased two (2) parcels from the Lee County Port Authority and submitted a permit application to the Corps on August 26, 2017, for the purpose of constructing on Tract PD (18.54 acres), calling it Phase IA (Tract PD) of a future planned Phase II (Tract PF&E). This work was also determined to be part of the RSW-Skyplex development, as defined by 33 CFR Chapter II, Part 325.1(d)(2). The Corps then requested in a letter dated February 20, 2018, to the Lee County Port Authority, that they submit one (1) application for the entire Skyplex development. Lee County Port Authority met with the Corps to further discuss this issue the week of April 16, 2018. The result of this meeting was that the application submitted on August 26, 2017 could be processed separately while still making mention of the overall Skyplex development. The TPA group submitted a revised application on August 7, 2018, requesting a Corps permit for both Tracts PD and PF&E. The Corps conducted a site visit on August 30, 2018 to verify jurisdiction, resulting in the same jurisdictional findings and existing conditions as determined by the applicant.
It is understood that the Lee County Port Authority will be submitting a Corps application for the overall Skyplex development and no further individual lessee applications will be processed.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater system with hydric pine flatwoods and an upland area consisting of upland pine flatwoods. The project site is approximately 36.21 acres in size and is part of a much larger master plan for commercial development measuring approximately 252 acres, see Attachments labeled Tract PD/Tract PF&E and Master Concept Plan. The area’s surrounding uses consist of a mixture of undeveloped land, commercial development, roadways and the RSW.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place 37,149 cubic yards of fill material into 8.19 acres of freshwater wetlands in association with the construction of single-tenant office buildings and a parking area. Additionally there would be 1.03 acres of secondary freshwater impacts from the project footprint.
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:
On-site wetland preservation and enhancement is not being proposed per Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) Advisory Circular 150/5200-33 (Hazard Wildlife Attractants on or near Airports). The elimination of on-site wetlands communities will reduce avian threats to aircraft and passenger safety. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and several other federal agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) have entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) recognizing the considerable risks that aircraft-wildlife strikes pose to safe aviation. The signatories to the MOA have agreed to coordinate more effectively in efforts to minimize wildlife risks to aviation and human safety. The MOA acknowledges that storm water management facilities attract hazardous wildlife and are, therefore normally incompatible with airports; therefore, off-site mitigation was considered to be the best alternative, and preferred by the ACOE, for the unavoidable wetland impacts.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: As compensation for 8.19 acres of direct impacts to the on-site wetlands and 1.03 off-site secondary impacts; 3.32 freshwater forested credits will be purchased from the Panther Island 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.
1) The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). The Corps received U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) concurrence letter, dated August 1, 2017 for all work that results in a “may affect, not likely to adversely affect” determination using the Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key. [The sequential determination is as follows: A > B > C > D > E1.] The Service concurs with these determinations and no further consultation with the FWS is necessary.
2) The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi). The project is located outside of the Panther Focus Area, however, since the project is greater than 1 acre in size and will have a net increase and/or change in vehicle traffic patterns, the Corps has determined that the project may affect the panther. The Corps will request USFWS concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
3) The Corps has determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the red cockaded woodpecker (RCW). The project is located within the RCW consultation area, however, the applicant indicates that no nest-like structures or tree cavities were noted on site. The Corps will request FWS concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
4) The Corps has determined the project may affect the Wood stork (Mycteria americana). Use of the Wood Stork Effect Determination Key dated dated August 13, 2013, resulting in the sequential determination as followed: A > B > C > E2. The project is located within the 619310 Wood Stork Nesting Colony and exceeds 5 acres of wetland impacts. The Corps will request formal consultation with the USFWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
5) The Corps has determined the project may affect the Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus). The project is located within the consultation area of the FBB. Furthermore, the project site is greater than 5 acres and includes more than 1 acre (alone or combined) of the following FBB habitat types: upland or wetland forest; upland or wetland shrub; or open freshwater wetlands. The Corps will request formal consultation with the FWS pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter.
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 determination is that the proposed project would have no adverse impact on EFH as the project site is located approximately 9 miles inland from the nearest tributary that leads into the Gulf of Mexico.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.