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: Forest Hills Development Company, LLC
Attn: Ronald Gentzler
1717 Woodstead Ct., Suite 2017
The Woodlands, TX 77380
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Davenport Creek. The project site is located south of Osceola Polk Line road (CR 532) and west of Lake Wilson Road, Davenport in Section 03, Township 26 South, Range 27 East, Polk County, Florida
Directions to the site are as follows: Travel north from the intersection of Ronald Reagan Pkwy and Lake Wilson Rd on Lake Wilson Rd. Take a left turn and travel west on Osceola Polk Line Rd. Property is on the left, south of the road.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 28.258013°
Basic: Mixed-use residential and commercial development.
Overall: To construct apartments, townhomes, retail, and commercial facilities south of Osceola Polk Line Road near the Champions Gate development in Polk County, FL.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The 40-acre project site was historically used for citrus production. Currently the site is vacant and primarily composed of open land, shrub and brushland, upland hardwood forests, and wetland hardwood forests. There are two wetlands on the site, a 4.12 ac palustrine forested wetland system located in the western portion of the property and a 0.89 ac palustrine emergent wetland located in the south-central portion of the site. Dominant plant species in the forested wetland includes loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana) and swamp tupelo (Nyssa biflora), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum) and lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus). Dominant plant species in the emergent wetland includes elderberries and blackberries (Sambucus spp. and Rubus spp.) around the edges and Peruvian primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana) and Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana) in the center.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill material into 0.89 acres of emergent wetlands to construct a 40-acre mixed-use residential and commercial development.
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 preservation of natural resources was a significant concern in planning development. Impacts to the highest quality forested wetland onsite were avoided entirely.”
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment: “Wetland impacts will be offset through the purchase of 0.45 palustrine credits from the Reedy Creek Mitigation Bank.”
CULTURAL RESOURCES: 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.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the Audubon’s Crested Carcara (Polyborus plancus audubonii), the Everglades snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), the Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), the Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), and the Red cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). Although the project site is within the Consultation Area (CA) for these species, the action area does not include suitable habitat for these species. Therefore, potential project impacts to these species and their habitat would be discountable.
The Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the Sand skink (Neoseps reynoldsi) and Bluetail mole skink (Eumeces egregious lividus). Since the project site is within the CA for these species, underlain by “skink soils,” and is at a topographic elevation of 82’ or higher, a pedestrian and cover board skink survey was conducted. Results of the March 2015 survey showed no evidence of skink activity at the project site. Therefore, potential project impacts to these species and their habitat will be negligible.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect (MANLAA) the Wood Stork (Mycteria Americana). Use of the 2010 Wood Stork Effect Determination Key yielded the following progression: A>B MANLAA. Project site is 15 miles of a colony site and contains suitable foraging habitat (SFH) for the species. Proposed project activities would impact less than 0.5 ac of SFH.
The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect (MANLAA) the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi). Use of the 2017 Eastern Indigo Snake Key yielded the following progression: A>B>C>D>E MANLAA. Permit will be conditioned for use of the Service’s most current guidance for Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake, project will impact less than 25 ac of habitat. A review of the project specific data indicated that the project site has known holes, cavities, and active or inactive gopher tortoise burrows. Any permit will be conditioned such that all gopher tortoise burrows, will be excavated prior to site manipulation in the vicinity of the burrow. If an eastern indigo snake is encountered, the snake will be allowed to vacate the area prior to additional site manipulation in the vicinity. Additionally, the permit will be conditioned such that holes, cavities, and snake refugia other than gopher tortoise burrows will be inspected each morning before planned site manipulation.
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 have no effect on 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.
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 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, Leanne Obra, in writing at the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Avenue, Suite 120, Tampa, Florida 33610; by electronic mail at Leanne.e.Obra@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (813)769-7061; or, by telephone at (813)769-7071.
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.