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: Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc.
601 E. Rollins St.
Orlando, Florida 32803
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The 68.28-acre 10999 Narcoossee Road project would affect waters of the United States associated with the East Lake Tohopekaliga Hydrologic Unit (Hydrologic Unit Code 0309010101). The project is located off Narcoossee Road, north of SR 417 in Orlando (in Sections 8 and 17, Township 24 South, Range 31 East), Orange County, Florida.
Directions to the Site: Exit SR 417 at Narcoossee Road. The site is in the NE quadrant of the interchange; address is 10999 Narcoossee Road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Overall: The overall purpose of this project is the construction of a medical facility with associated parking and infrastructure in Orange County, Florida.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The proposed project consists of a medical facility, including a hospital with emergency room and doctor’s offices, and would have access/connectivity with Medical City ambulance service.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: A total of ±42.71 acres of waters of the United States (wetlands) and a ±10.55 acre borrow area are located on-site. The wetlands consist of contiguous forested and herbaceous systems, which are connected to Buck Lake and Myrtle Bay. The forested wetlands consist of both mixed-forested and pine-dominated systems. The herbaceous marsh systems are connected to the forested systems and consist of historic pastureland. The forested wetlands were described as having moderate function, while herbaceous wetlands were considered low quality due to their landscape position, history of management and use by cattle.
On-site land cover is composed of six cover-types, consisting of natural and man-impacted areas. These land use types/vegetative communities were identified utilizing the Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System, Level III (FLUCCS, FDOT, 1999). The following is a description of each with the corresponding FLUCCS code:
Improved Pastures (211) – 15.02 Acres
This is the dominant on-site upland cover-type. It consists of dominant bahia grass (Paspalum notatum), with lesser components of netted pawpaw (Asimina reticulata), live oak (Quercus virginiana) saplings, dog fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and loblolly pine (P. taeda) saplings, and frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora). These areas have been under active cattle grazing and all vegetation is low in height.
Wetland Coniferous Forests (620) – 2.12 Acres
This small area of forested wetlands is located on the southwestern portion of the site. Observed vegetation includes a dominant pine canopy of longleaf pine and loblolly pine, with lesser components of bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum), soft rush (Juncus effusus), St. John’s wort (Hypericum spp.), yellow-eyed grass (Xyris spp.), and maidencane (Panicum hemitomon).
Wetland Forested Mixed (630) – 19.74 Acres
This is the dominant on-site wetland cover-type, consisting of a mature canopy of bald cypress, sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), red maple (Acer rubrum), loblolly pine, Chinese tallow tree, wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), maidencane, soft rush, cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and royal fern (Osmunda regalis).
Freshwater Marshes (641) – 10.21 Acres
This wetland cover-type is primarily located within the wetter, non-forested areas along the fringes of the forested wetlands. The dominant vegetation consists of yellow-eyed grass, maidencane, spikerush (Eleocharis spp.), centella (Centella asiatica), and pickerelweed. These areas have been under active cattle grazing and all vegetation is low in height.
Wet Pasture (211W) – 10.64 Acres
Portions of the pasture areas is considered wetlands. The dominant vegetation consists of bahia grass, with scattered beakrush (Rhynchospora spp.), yellow-eyed grass, and centella. These areas have been under active cattle grazing and all vegetation is low in height.
Borrow Areas (742) – 10.55 Acres
This surface water area is located on the eastern portion of the site. This man-made borrow area appeared to have been recently excavated, with small areas of pickerelweed and soft rush observed along the shore.
PROPOSED WORK: The Applicant seeks authorization to place fill in 16.79-acres of waters of the United States for the construction of medical facilities in Orange County, Florida.
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 wetland impacts shown are necessary for the viability of this project. The site is designed to include a combination of medical offices, emergency room (ER), and hospital that are sorely needed in this area of Orlando. The site is further located near Medical City in an area without a hospital and the land use is consistent with the surrounding area.
The applicant evaluated 7 other sites. Numerous additional sites (beyond the 8 – the subject site and 7 alternatives) were immediately eliminated due to noise contours and land use restrictions. Of the 8 sites that were evaluated several of the sites were not for sale or had other issues such as visibility, access, distance to Medical City, engineering issues, and higher quality forested wetlands.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“Mitigation for wetland impacts will consist of a combination of on-site preservation of the remaining wetlands and preserving upland pasture, along with securing off-site “regionally significant” mitigation (i.e., mitigation credits). Proposed on-site mitigation and credits from a mitigation bank would be utilized to off-set the remaining loss of functions and values as calculated through the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method.”
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/or Tribes.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The applicant indicated no federally listed plant species occur on the project site. The Corps has completed preliminary federally listed species affect determinations which include the following:
The proposed activity is within the Core Foraging Area (CFA) of a wood stork (Mycteria americana) rookery; the project supports marginally Suitable Foraging Habitat (SFH) for wood stork. Based on the Effect Determination Key for the Wood Stork in Central and North Peninsular Florida (dated September 2008), the Corps determination sequence was A>B>C>E = “may affect, not likely to adversely affect”. The determination is supported by SFH compensation provided within the service area of a mitigation bank which covers the CFA, and provides an amount of habitat and foraging function equivalent to that of impacted SFH; is not contrary to the Service’s Habitat Management Guidelines For The Wood Stork In The Southeast Region and in accordance with the CWA Section 404(b)(1) guidelines. The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence for the proposed activities through the use of the aforementioned determination key.
The Corps has determined the proposed project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect” the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). Based on the Eastern Indigo Snake Effect Determination Key (dated January 25, 2010; August 13, 2013 Addendum), the Corps determination sequence is as follows: A (The project is not located in open water or salt marsh.) >B (The permit will be conditioned for use of the Service’s Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake during site preparation and protection construction.) >C (There are gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities.) >D (The project will impact less than 25 acres of xeric habitat supporting less than 25 active and inactive gopher tortoise burrows ) >E (Any permit will be conditioned such that all gopher tortoise burrows, active or inactive, will be evacuated prior to site manipulation in the vicinity of the burrow) = NLAA. The permittee agrees to use the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake (dated August 12, 2013). If an indigo snake is encountered, the snake must be allowed to vacate the area prior to additional site manipulation in the vicinity. Any permit will also be conditioned such that holes, cavities, and snake refugia other than gopher tortoise burrows will be inspected each morning before planned site manipulation of a particular area, and, if occupied by an indigo snake, no work will commence until the snake has vacated the vicinity of proposed work. The Corps has U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurrence for the proposed activities through the use of the aforementioned determination key.
The project is within the Consultation Area for Bluetail mole skink (Eumeces egregious lividus) and Sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi), Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), Everglades snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), Aububon’s crested caracara (Polyborus plancus audubonii), Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides boerealis). Based on existing habitat types, the Corps preliminarily determined the project will have no effect on these 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 proposal would impact approximately 16.79 acres of freshwater wetlands and surface waters which ultimately discharge to the Kissimmee River. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on downstream EFH or Federally managed fisheries. 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 (NMFS).
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 will be required from the South Florida Water Management District.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Cocoa Permits Section, 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600, Cocoa, Florida 32926, 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, Jeffrey S. Collins, in writing at the Cocoa Permits Section (address above), by electronic mail at Jeffrey.firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at (321) 504-3771.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with USFWS, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the NMFS, 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 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.
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.