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 Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA)
c/o Jessica Vargas Astaiza
801 Norhwest 33RD Street
Pompano Beach, FL 33064
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with jurisdictional wetlands and other surface waters. The project site is located along the South Florida Regional Connector between mile post 964.9 on the north end and milepost 965.9 on the south end. The length of the proposed project is approximately 1.2 miles.
Directions to the site are as follows: From I-95 take CR 708 (Martin Luther King Boulevard) east to North Congress Avenue. Turn south on North Congress Avenue for approximately 1 mile to Cheney Way.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Basic: The basic project purpose is to place suitable fill for the construction of a maintenance facility.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to place suitable fill for the construction of a maintenance facility for regional rail service in central Palm Beach County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The project site is approximately 1.2 miles in length and consists of a one wetland and nine surface water features adjacent to the project area. The C-17 Canal is located within the project boundary and has a defined connection to the ocean, but is not accessible to boats west of the S-44 Water Control Structure. The wetland (W-1) located within the project boundary is 0.14 acres and is dominated by Brazilian pepper (Schinus tereinthifolius), earlead acacia (Acacia auriculiformis), melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia), coastal plain willow (Salix caroliniana), and old world climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum), and with limited ground cover. Exotic vegetation has formed a canopy over 80% of the wetland. Small patches of remnant native wetland vegetation can be found within the interior of the wetland and is limited duck potato (Sagittaria lancifolia), swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum), and smartweed (Persicaria spp.). Dense woody debris occurs throughout the wetland. Some of the surface water (SW) features within the project area support areas of hydrophytic vegetation. Extensive areas of SW-3, SW-5, SW-7, and SW-8 were covered with exotic floating vegetation including water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). SW-5, SW-7, and SW-8 are connected through drainage pipes. SW-5 connects with SW-3 (C-17 Canal), as well as a drainage pond located outside of the project limits. The C-17 Canal is regulated by the SFWMD control structure S-44 and is managed through dredging and routine vegetation removal. SW-7 is connected to a dry detention pond outside of the project limits through a weir. Surface waters SW-1, SW-2, SW-4, SW-6, and SW-9 were deep drainage ditches overgrown with dense stands of exotic vegetation including Brazilian pepper, melaleuca, and old world climbing fern. Wood debris, vines, and trash (tires, metal, and household debris) were observed within the drainage ditches. Properties adjacent to the project consist of commercial and industrial parcels.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to impact 0.55 acres of other surface waters and 0.14 acres of herbaceous wetlands to construct a layover and maintenance facility for the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, for a total of 0.69 acres of impacts. The upgrades will include service and inspection areas, a train wash, on-site fueling, a layover yard, parts and supplies storage, a new access drive from Dexter Way, walkways and vehicle access throughout the yard, landscaping, and on-site stormwater detention 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:
“Wetland and surface water impacts have been avoided and minimized to the greatest extent possible. All of the wetland W-1 (0.14 acres) is proposed to be impacted by the project. W-1 is within a proposed dry detention area within the Service and Inspection area. Due to the relocation of the mainline tracks and the additional width of the multiple yard tracks, impacts to this wetland are unavoidable.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: “Compensatory mitigation for unavoidable wetland impacts may be provided by the Loxahatchee Mitigation Bank. Compensatory mitigation for the proposed 0.55 acres of impacts to surface waters associated with stormwater management systems is not proposed. Surface water impacts typically do not require compensatory mitigation.” The Corps is currently determining the loss of wetland function and value using the Modified Wetland Rapid Assessment Process (M-WRAP).
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 if applicable, 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) and the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi). The Corps will request U.S. Fish and Wildlife concurrence with this determination pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
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 Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Ste 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 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, Kelly Egan, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Permits Section, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Ste 500, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; by electronic mail at Kelly.Egan@usace.army.mil; or, by telephone at (561) 472-3514.
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.