PROPOSAL: To expedite the processing of Department of the Army permit applications, the Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is proposing to re-issue this programmatic general permit (PGP) for private single-family piers and appurtenances, shoreline stabilization, minor structures, and maintenance dredging at single-family docks within Pinellas County, Florida.
BACKGROUND: From the late 1980s until 2001, the Corps had a general permit in effect which gave authority to Pinellas County to administer permits for the construction of single-family docks in navigable waters. In 2001, Pinellas County’s (and any other county which also had this authorization) ability to administer the permit was revoked because of state-wide issues concerning endangered species. In an effort to simplify and speed up the processing of permits, the Corps issued a programmatic general permit (SAJ-96) on July 13, 2007. This permit was renewed on July 17, 2014, and is due to expire on July 17, 2019. This PGP is used for private single-family piers and appurtenances, shoreline stabilization, minor structures, and maintenance dredging at single-family docks within Pinellas County, Florida. Authority to administer these permits was given to Pinellas County. During the time period between January 2015 and January 2019, Pinellas County has verified the SAJ-96 3,077 times.
Agency Coordination: The proposed reissuance of this permit is being coordinated via separate letters with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service-Protected Resource Division as required under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, and with the National Marine Fisheries Service-Habitat Conservation Division for Essential Fish Habitat as required under the Magnusson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
RESPONSE: Comments regarding the proposed reissuance of this Programmatic General Permit SAJ-96 should be submitted in writing to the District Engineer at the letterhead address within 30 days from the date of this notice. The permit will be reissued without further notice if no adverse comments are received. If you have any questions concerning this proposal, you may contact Ms. Candice Wheelahan 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120 Tampa, Florida 33610 or by electronic mail at Candice.M.Wheelahan@usace.army.mil.
A draft of the proposed programmatic general permit follows:
PROGRAMMATIC GENERAL PERMIT SAJ-96
PRIVATE SINGLE-FAMILY PIERS AND APPURTENANCES; SHORELINE STABILIZATION; MINOR STRUCTURES; AND MAINTENANCE DREDGING AT SINGLE-FAMILY DOCKS IN WATERS OF THE U.S. LOCATED WITHIN PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA
Upon recommendation of the Chief of Engineers, pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 134), general authority is given to Pinellas County to administer this permit for private single-family piers and appurtenances, minor structures at existing, single-family shoreline stabilization, and maintenance dredging at single-family docks within Pinellas County, Florida.
COORDINATION AGREEMENT: An agreement has been signed by the Corps and Pinellas County. The agreement outlines the steps each agency will take during the processing of an application under the SAJ-96, and includes reporting requirements.
This programmatic general permit is subject to the following conditions:
A. SPECIAL CONDITIONS FOR PRIVATE, SINGLE-FAMILY PIERS AND APPURTENANT STRUCTURES:
- The work herein authorized includes private single-family piers not to exceed 4 slips, provided any slips in excess of 2 are limited to personal watercraft (which includes any seawall mounted personal watercraft lifts and davits) unless a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved Manatee Protection Plan is more restrictive. This would include normal appurtenances such as boat hoists, boat shelters with open sides, stairways, walkways, lower landings, mooring pilings, dolphins, and maintenance of same, including pier reconfiguration.
- No activity may cause more than a minimal adverse effect on navigation. Any safety lights and signals prescribed by the U.S. Coast Guard, through regulations or otherwise, must be installed and maintained at the permittee's expense on authorized facilities in navigable waters of the United States.
B. SPECIAL CONDITIONS FOR MINOR STRUCTURES AT EXISTING FACILITIES:
- The work herein authorized includes reconfigurations of existing, previously authorized multi-slip and commercial docking structures provided the work does not provide new access for watercraft, improve an existing access to allow increased watercraft usage, or allow violation of any governmental law, regulation, guideline, or criteria to continue to exist. This would include normal appurtenances such as boat hoists, boat shelters with open sides, stairways, walkways, lower landings, mooring pilings, dolphins, and maintenance of same.
- No new access for watercraft is allowed, including high and dry storage.
- No increase in number of slips is allowed (existing number of slips is not in question)
- No improvements are allowed that would increase usage.
- Size of vessels must not be increased.
- Structures are not allowed to be used for repeat use vessels or special events.
- No activity shall cause more than minimal adverse effect on navigation. Any safety lights and signals prescribed by the U.S. Coast Guard, through regulations or otherwise, must be installed and maintained at the permittee's expense on authorized facilities in navigable waters of the United States.
C. SPECIAL CONDITIONS FOR SHORELINE STABILIZATION:
- The work herein authorized includes construction and repair of bulkheads and backfill and riprap revetments for single-family properties in Pinellas County.
- New vertical walls cannot extend further waterward than 1.5 feet (18-inches) from Mean High Water (MHW), unless necessary to align with existing, adjacent walls and less than 100 feet.
- Replacement seawalls or riprap are allowed within 1.5 feet (18-inches) of existing structure.
- New riprap is allowed, but cannot be placed more than 10 feet waterward of the MHWL.
- Riprap cannot be steeper than a 2:1 slope.
- The backfill must be from upland sources and consist of suitable material, free from toxic pollutants in other than trace quantities.
D. SPECIAL CONDITIONS FOR MAINTENANCE DREDGING AT SINGLE-FAMILY DOCKS:
- The work herein authorized includes maintenance dredging, using non-hopper dredges, around single-family docks.
- Dredging must not exceed previously authorized depth.
- If previously authorized depth is unknown, dredging is not allowed to be more than -7 feet deep at Mean Low Water.
- Dredging must not exceed surrounding controlling depths.
- The dredged material is limited to 5,000 cubic yards.
- Dredged material will be deposited in self-contained upland areas that will prevent the dredged material and return water from reentering any water of the United States or interfering with natural drainage.
E. SPECIAL CONDITIONS FOR ALL WORKS:
- No work shall be performed until the applicant submits satisfactory plans for the proposed activity and receives written authorization from Pinellas County.
- No activity shall be authorized under this general permit which by its size or location may adversely affect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, wetlands, or emergent or submerged aquatic vegetation. No mangroves or submerged aquatic vegetation will be impacted.
- No work shall be authorized on beach areas used by swimming sea turtles.
- No activity shall be authorized by SAJ-96 which is likely to adversely affect any Federally listed threatened or endangered species or a species proposed for such designation, or destroy or adversely modify its designated critical habitat.
- Prior to issuance of authorization, the dichotomous key titled "The Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida - March 2011" will be used to determine potential manatee impacts. All projects determined to require coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are not authorized by this permit and will be sent to the Corps for processing and coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in accordance with the Endangered Species Act. Note: The manatee key may be subject to revision at any time. It is our intention that the most recent version of this technical tool will be utilized during the evaluation of the permit application. A copy of the most current Key is attached (Attachment A) and can also be found at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Source-Book/ under the "Endangered Species" heading.
a. No work shall be authorized in the Spring Bayou/Tarpon Springs or Bartow Power Plant Important Manatee Areas (IMAs). Maps of these areas can be found by visiting https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Source-Book/ clicking on the link for "Endangered Species", under the Manatee heading select the "Additional Manatee Information" link, then under the County Maps heading select "Pinellas and Pasco". (Attachment A)
b. No work shall be authorized in the Harbor Isle, Harbor Isle Unit 1, and Harbor Isle Unit 2 developments, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida. (Attachment A)
6. For projects in waters accessible to Manatee's, the permittee must comply with the "Standard Manatee Conditions for In-water Work", March 2011 (Attachment B). Also available at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Source-Book/
7. Compliance with the Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion: Structures authorized under this general permit must satisfy the Project Design Criteria (PDCs) provided for all activities and pile-supported structures as stated in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District’s Programmatic Biological Opinion, November 2017 (JAXBO). In accordance with the Endangered Species Act, the Corps will seek individual consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for all projects that do not comply with the PDCs of JAXBO prior to verification. Please note that failure to comply with the attached PDCs, where a take of listed species occurs, would constitute an unauthorized take, and noncompliance with this general permit. The NMFS is the appropriate authority to enforce the terms and conditions of JAXBO. The most current version of JAXBO can be accessed at the Jacksonville District Regulatory Division internet webpage in the Endangered Species section of the Sourcebook located at: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Source-Book/
a. For work in waters accessible to sea turtles and smalltooth sawfish, the permittee must comply with the JAXBO PDC Conditions (Attachment C). Also available at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Source-Book/
b. For all projects involving the installation of piles, sheet piles, concrete slab walls or boatlift I-beams (Reference the JAXBO PDCs for In-Water Noise from Pile and Sheet Pile Installation, attachment D.):
(1) Construction methods limited to trench and fill, pilot hole (auger or drop punch), jetting, vibratory, and impact hammer (however, impact hammer limited to installing no more than 5 per day).
(2) Material limited to wood piles with a 14-inch diameter or less, concrete piles with a 24-inch diameter/width or less, metal pipe piles with a 36-inch diameter or less, metal boatlift I-beams, concrete slab walls, vinyl sheet piles, and metal sheet piles (however, not authorized is installation of metal pipe or metal sheet pile by impact hammer).
8. No work shall be authorized by SAJ-96 which may have direct or indirect adverse impacts to essential fish habitat such as but not limited to hard or soft corals, including listed corals, mangroves, estuarine emergent vegetation, marine emergent vegetation, and/or the following species of submerged aquatic vegetation: shoal grass (Halodule wrightii), paddle grass (Halophila decipiens), star grass (Halophila engelmanni), Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii), sago pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus), clasping-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton perfoliatus), widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima), manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme), turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum), tapegrass (Vallisneria americana), horned pondweed (Zannichellia palustris), and eel grass (Zostera marina). Indirect effects include secondary and cumulative effects. In addition, the project cannot have adverse effects on any other essential fish habitat.
9. Projects involving pilings where mangrove, emergent or submerged vegetation resources are present must comply with the "Construction Guidelines in Florida for Minor Piling Supported Structures Constructed in or over Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV), Marsh, or Mangrove Habitat, Army Corps of Engineers/National Marine Fisheries Service – November 2017” (Attachment E). Also available at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Source-Book/ under the “Other Permitting Factors” heading.
10. The Permittee shall use turbidity barriers for all in-water work.
11. No structure or work that is in Federal manatee sanctuaries, motorboat prohibited zones, or "no entry zones" shall be authorized. Applications for work in these areas will require review under standard permit criteria.
12. No work shall be authorized by this permit within the boundaries of any state park.
13. Prior to the initiation of any construction, projects qualifying for this programmatic general permit must be authorized by an exemption under section 403.813(1), F.S. or 373.406, F.S., or otherwise be authorized by the applicable permit. required under Part IV of Chapter 373, F.S., and by any authorization required to use or occupy state-owned submerged lands under Chapter 253, F.S. and, as applicable, Chapter 258, F.S. Such permit will provide the applicable Water Quality Certification (WQC) and Coastal Zone Consistency Concurrence (CZCC) or waiver thereto.
14. For dock and pier projects proposed 150’ from the near edge of Federally maintained channels, the application will be coded Yellow and will be sent to the Corps for review to ensure no structure, including mooring piles, authorized under this general permit shall be within 100' of the top of slope of the near edge of the Federal channel of the various ICWs. The Corps will make the determination if the structure is within 100’ of the of the Federal Channel and will either process as an individual permit or send the permit application back to Pinellas County where the applicant will enter into a consent-to-easement with the Real Estate Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District prior to the commencement of any construction activity.
15. No work shall be performed until after the permittee provides notification to the owner(s) or operator(s) of any marked utilities in the work area.
16. Any structure authorized under this general permit must not interfere with general navigation. For projects authorized under the SAJ-96 in navigable waters, the permittee understands and agrees that, if future operations by the United States require the removal, relocation, or other alteration, of the structures or work herein authorized, or if, in the opinion of the Secretary of the Army or his authorized representative, said structure or work shall cause unreasonable obstruction to the free navigation of the navigable waters, the permittee will be required, upon due notice from the Corps of Engineers, to remove, relocate, or alter the structural work or obstructions caused thereby, without expense to the United States. No claim shall be made against the United States on account of any such removal or alteration.
17. No residential, fueling, or storage facilities over navigable waters are authorized under this general permit.
18. Cultural Resources/Historic Properties:
a. No structure or work shall adversely affect, impact or disturb properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) or those eligible for inclusion in the NRHP.
b. If, during the ground disturbing activities and construction work within the permit area, there are archaeological/cultural materials encountered which were not the subject of a previous cultural resources assessment survey (and which shall include, but not be limited to: pottery, modified shell, flora, fauna, human remains, ceramics, stone tools or metal implements, dugout canoes, evidence of structures or any other physical remains that could be associated with Native American cultures or early colonial or American settlement), the Permittee shall immediately stop all work in the vicinity and notify the Corps within two calendar days. The Corps shall then notify the Florida State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and the appropriate Tribal Historic Preservation Officer(s) (THPO(s)) to assess the significance of the discovery and devise appropriate actions.
c. A cultural resources assessment may be required of the permit area, if deemed necessary by the SHPO, THPO(s), or Corps, in accordance with 36 CFR 800 or 33 CFR 325, Appendix C (5). Based on the circumstances of the discovery, equity to all parties, and considerations of the public interest, the Corps may modify, suspend or revoke the permit in accordance with 33 CFR Part 325.7. Such activity shall not resume on non-federal lands without written authorization from the SHPO and the Corps.
d. In the unlikely event that unmarked human remains are identified on non-federal lands, they will be treated in accordance with Section 872.05; Florida Statutes. All work in the vicinity shall immediately cease and the permittee shall immediately notify the medical examiner, Corps, and State Archeologist. The Corps shall then notify the appropriate SHPO and THPO(s). Based, on the circumstances of the discovery, equity to all parties, and considerations of the public interest, the Corps may modify, suspend or revoke the permit in accordance with 33 CFR Part 325.7. Such activity shall not resume without written authorization from the State Archeologist, SHPO and the Corps.
e. In the unlikely event that human remains are encountered on federal or tribal lands, or in situations where Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, or Native American Graves Protection Repatriation Act of 1990 applies, all work in the vicinity shall immediately cease and the Permittee immediately notify the Corps. The Corps shall then notify the appropriate THPO(s) and SHPO. Based, on the circumstances of the discovery, equity to all parties, and considerations of the public interest, the Corps may modify, suspend or revoke the permit in accordance with 33 CFR Part 325.7. After such notification, project activities on federal lands shall not resume without written authorization from the Corps, and/or appropriate THPO(s), SHPO, and federal manager. After such notification, project activities on tribal lands shall not resume without written authorization from the appropriate THPO(s) and the Corps.
19. The permittee shall perform all work in accordance with the general conditions, which can be found at http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/SourceBook.aspx Under the "Permitting" heading, select the "General Permits" link.
20. Conformance with descriptions and quantities contained herein does not necessarily guarantee authorization under SAJ-96. The District Engineer reserves the right to require that any request for authorization under this regional general permit be evaluated as a standard permit.
21. SAJ-96 shall be valid for a period of five (5) years from the date of issuance unless suspended or revoked by issuance of a public notice by the District Engineer. The Corps will conduct periodic reviews to determine if continuation of the permit is not contrary to the public interest.
22. If SAJ-96 expires or is revoked prior to completion of the authorized work, authorization of activities that have commenced or are under contract to commence in reliance on SAJ-96 will remain in effect provided the activity is completed within 12 months of the date SAJ-96 expired or was revoked.
23. “A Summary of Pinellas County Dock Construction Guidelines for Minimizing Impacts to Seagrasses, Mangroves and Other Beneficial Shoreline Vegetation”, shall be used in conjunction with the aforementioned SAV Guidelines. Pinellas County developed attachment F to integrate County practices with the SAV Guidelines. Pinellas County practices shall not supersede any of the aforementioned Special Conditions.