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: Taylor Morrison
3922 Coconut Palm Drive, Suite 108
Tampa, FL 33619
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with New River and its wetlands and tributaries. The project site is located on the west side of SR 56 (new extension) and Morris Bridge Road; in Section 26 and 30, Township 26 South, Range 20 and 21 East; Pasco County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-75 in Tampa, exit as Fletcher Road and travel east; Fletcher becomes Morris Bridge Road. Travel approximately 8.5 miles. The site entrance is on the west side of Morris Bridge Road approximately 1,000 feet south of State Road 56.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Overall: Construct a residential subdivision consisting of both single-family and multi-family housing units in south-east Pasco County (Wesley Chapel/Zephyrhills market area).
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is a 626.6 acre parcel currently used for cattle pasture. The upland portions of the site consist primarily of improved pasture, along with patches of mixed upland forest. The wetland areas include a mix of non-forested and forested wetlands (approx. 123.84 acres), including the New River drainage that runs from north to south through the center of the property. In addition, the site contains approximately 5.41 acres of ditches. The existing area surrounding the project consists of rural residential developments and undeveloped agricultural lands.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to construct a residential subdivision with up to 1,999 housing units (single and multi-family) and associated infrastructure (roadways, parking and stormwater management facilities). Work would include impacts to 8.69 acres of jurisdictional wetlands, 17.67 acres of non-jurisdictional wetlands, and 4.83 acres of surface waters. The applicant has avoided and minimized impacts to 80% of onsite wetlands, particularly avoiding the higher-quality forested areas.
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:
“Through careful planning of the site design, the Applicant has generally avoided impacts to the higher quality jurisdictional wetlands within the project envelope, and has greatly minimized impacts to onsite forested wetland systems. For example, through this planning effort, lot and roadway configurations are focused in and around locations of wetlands that have been directly disturbed via agricultural ditching and draining activities, or within isolated wetlands that have been subject to prior disturbance (e.g., unimproved truck trail use by the ranching operation, and livestock/feral wildlife disturbances), as opposed to siting wetland impacts within relatively undisturbed wetlands.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
“The Applicant intends to purchase herbaceous and forested mitigation bank credits from a Corps and District approved mitigation bank site within the Hillsborough River Watershed as compensation for project related wetland impacts. A portion of the compensation for SWFMD wetland impacts may be provided onsite as herbaceous wetland creation within 100-year floodplain compensation areas.”
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 preliminarily determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Wood Stork. The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
The Corps has preliminarily determined the proposal may affect the Eastern Indigo Snake. The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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 initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. 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 not 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 Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610 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, Candice Wheelahan, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at Candice.M.Wheelahan@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (813)769-7061; or, by telephone at (813)769-7064.
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.