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: Florida Crystals Corporation
2199 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Suite 201
Coral Gables, FL 33134
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the C-51 sub basin for the construction of residential and commercial development. The project site is located on the southeast corner of Lake Worth Road and Hooks Road in Section 27, Township 43 South, Range 42 East, Lake Worth, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Take Florida’s Turnpike to Lake Worth Road exit and drive west for 500 feet and turn left (south) on Hooks Road. The property is on the left hand (east) side of Hooks Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: To construct residential community and a commercial retail center.
Overall: To construct residential community including affordable housing, and a commercial retail center in west Lake Worth, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The Corps completed a preliminary jurisdictional determination on June 7, 2018, which documented three (3) freshwater wetlands and four (4) non-wetland waters on the overall 30-acre project site. Wetland #1 is a Melaleuca (Melaleuca quiquenervia) dominated wetland that is 1.65 acres in size; Wetland #2 is a 0.17 acre freshwater wetland that includes mainly Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana) and wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera); Wetland #3 is a 0.10 acre freshwater wetland that includes torpedo grass (Panicum repens) and coin wort (Hydrocotyle spp.) and Carolina willow. The non-wetland surface waters consist of three (3) man-made ponds and one (1) drainage swale that total 0.41 acres in size.
The project site has been altered from its natural condition for residential and agricultural uses in the past, and most recently was partly impacted during the construction of the Florida’s Turnpike interchange at Lake Worth Road in 2008 including approximately 0.60 acres of the remaining Melaleuca wetland.
The surrounding area is nearly completely developed including several residential development currently under construction.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to place 9,292 cubic yards of fill in 1.92 acres of wetlands.
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 1.65 acre Melaleuca wetland (Wetland #1) is located at the north end of the project site adjacent to Lake Worth Road and the LWDD L-12 Canal, and was previously partly impacted along the east side during the construction of the Lake Worth turnpike interchange in 2008. This wetland would require vertical relocation of the existing ground elevation in the wetland based on the surface water management design criteria of the South Florida Water Management District, and this is not compatible with the Corps Mitigation Rule of 2008. The other two remnant wetlands are very small in size and are mostly overtaken by exotic and nuisance plant species and would also require vertical relocation in order to sustain them as a viable wetland system.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
All impacts to 1.92 acres freshwater wetlands will be mitigated for by purchasing credits at the Loxahatchee Mitigation Bank.
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
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork (Mycteria Americana), Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) and Everglades Snail kite (Rostrhamus socialbilis). The determination is described below:
The Corps has determined that the proposed project is located within 18.6 miles of three wood stork nesting colonies and suitable foraging habitat is located within the project footprint. The Corps utilized the South Florida Programmatic Concurrence Key for the Wood Stork dated May 18, 2010, and determined that the project may affect but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork (path A-B-C-E) provided the loss of suitable foraging habitat will be replaced. No further consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is required for the wood stork pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. If it is determined that the wood stork foraging habitat would not be replaced, coordination with the FWS would be conducted by separate letter.
The Corps has determined that suitable eastern indigo snake habitat is present within and adjacent to the project area. Use of The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Indigo Snake Key dated August 1, 2017, resulted in a path of A-B-C-D-E, not likely to adversely affect. A determination of “not likely to adversely affect” was made for the Indigo snake provided the permit includes the special conditions for the Eastern Indigo Snake Protection Measures during construction and the permit will be conditioned such that all gopher tortoise burrows, active or inactive, shall be evacuated via methods pursuant to FWC excavation guidance prior to site manipulation in the vicinity of the burrows. Additionally, holes, cavities, and snake refugia other than gopher tortoise burrows shall be inspected each morning before planned site manipulation of a particular area with work stopping if an indigo snake is discovered. With an outcome of “not likely to adversely affect (NLAA)” as outlined in the key, the requirements of Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act are fulfilled for the eastern indigo snake and no further action is required.
The project is within the consultation area for the Everglades Snail kite. Kite foraging habitat consists of relatively shallow wetland vegetation, either within extensive marsh systems, or in lake littoral zones. Snail kite nesting substrate is typically located over open water at a distance of approximately 150 meters from the edge of water to provide protection to the nest. It is not likely that nesting habitat is present on site. No snail kites have been observed on site, but suitable forage (apple snails) have been documented. Based on the above information, the Corps has determined that the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the snail kite. The need for a species survey for the project area will be determined based on guidance from US Fish and Wildlife service.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, 33410 within 30 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, Carolyn Farmer, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, 33410; by electronic mail at Carolyn.firstname.lastname@example.org; by facsimile transmission at (561) 626-6971; or, by telephone at (561) 472-3527.
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.