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: Ms. Lourdes F. López/Hacienda San Martín, Inc.
# 10, Carr. PR-693
Dorado, Puerto Rico 00646
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with herbaceous wetlands. The project site is located at Sabanera de Dorado, PR-693, Km. 10.7, Higuillar Ward, Municipality of Dorado, Puerto Rico.
Directions to the site are as follows: West on highway PR-22 after the toll booth of Toa Baja, take the state road number PR-693, exit 24 toward Dorado/Toa Alta/Hyatt. Turn right onto ramp, then turn right again and at the roundabout turn left onto state road PR-693 North, continue straight until the second light and turn to left and to Sabanera de Dorado Project.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 18.455510 °
Overall: To provide main access to new residential communities that are part of Sabana de Dorado residential complex and to the proposed Dorado Beach Health Center to be developed to the west of proposed Higuillar Avenue.
BACKGROUND: A Department of the Army permit for a similar project was issued on March 9, 2005. It consisted of the discharge of fill material on approximately 0.40 acres of wetlands for the construction of four crossings. The authorized work was not performed but the mitigation required by permit issued in 2005 permit was completed.
This permit expired on June 18, 2008, and two nationwide permits for the same project were issued on 2011 and 2013. Again, the four crossings were not completed, and recently a new permit application was submitted for the construction of the four crossings and additional impacts on wetlands areas for the construction of the Higuillar Avenue that will provide access to a proposed Dorado Beach Health Center and to a second access of Sabanera Dorado residential project.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. The onsite vegetation consists of herbaceous wetlands, species such as Cyperus gigantus and Eleocharis interstincta. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of Sabanera de Dorado residential development to the south of the proposed project already built.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill material on approximately 1.61 acres of herbaceous wetlands to build four bridge crossings and a portion of the new Higuillar Avenue and portions of its embankments.
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 original project proposed the discharge of fill material on approximately 2.10 acres of wetlands for the construction of residential communities and access roads. The project was redesigned to avoid impacts over the wetlands for the construction of the houses. In addition, the impacts on wetlands areas were minimized by using bridges instead of box culverts. This action minimizes the area of the discharge of fill material from approximately 1.40 acres to 0.40 acres of wetlands for the bridge crossings. Also, the applicant avoided impacts on wetlands by designing proposed Dorado Health Center outside wetlands areas and reducing the proposed Higuillar Avenue on wetlands.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The applicant is proposing the establishment of approximately 1.92 acres of wetlands from uplands through planting 274 trees of Annona glabra and 120 trees of Pterocarpus officinalis.
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.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any 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 is required from the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Antilles Permits Section, Fund. Angel Ramos, Annex Bldg., Suite 202, 383 F.D. Roosevelt Ave., San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918 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, Ms. Carmen G. Román, in writing at the Antilles Permits Section, Fund. Angel Ramos, Annex Bldg., Suite 202, 383 F.D. Roosevelt Ave., San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918; by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or, by telephone at (787) 729-6637.
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 Puerto Rico, a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Concurrence is not required from the Puerto Rico Planning Board for this project.
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.